Author's Notes: This story was written as a continuation to a short fic titled "Because You're My Friend?" by author 'kdbleu' on livejournal. In it, Kara and Lee discuss what happened to her in the Farm on Caprica and they resolve to return to the planet to find out what the cylons have been doing to the pieces of her they took. This fic picks up a few months later, during the rescue mission to Caprica for the Resistance fighters. Kara and Lee stay behind and begin their journey.
"Lee?" Kara asks from a few steps behind, branches and leaves crunching beneath the soles of her boots. It's what amazes her most about her second return to Caprica. The people may be dead, but life goes on. Seasons change. Leaves fall. Grass grows, and somewhere in the distance, songbirds fill the relative silence on the otherwise quiet journey to the unknown.
"Hmm?" His voice is just loud enough for her to hear him, eyes ahead on constant vigil. They'd seen the centurions backdown and leave at the standoff in the forest, but it didn't mean he was about to turn his back on one any time soon. There was no good faith to be granted.
"If we get caught…" She starts, but doesn't complete the thought, rationing the oxygen she's inhaling in heavy breaths. The weight of her pack on her shoulders, the gun in her arm, and the protective gear around her tired her out an hour ago.
"I know, Kara." There's no emotion in the way he speaks, but he risks a glance back to her, slowing down half a pace until they're shoulder to shoulder. It violates everything he learned on survival trips and in bootcamp, but for a second he needs to have her within his sights to be assured she's safe. He shifts the hold of his gun to his other arm, right hand seeking out her left, and Kara lets their fingers intertwine. What he's promised her, he'll never say aloud. But if push comes to shove, if she's about to be taken to one of those Farms yet again, he'll fight as long as it takes to put a bullet between her eyes. Then, Lee knows, if the cylons don't kill him, he'll take his own life too.
For hours they've walked, following a well worn map that's tearing at the seams where it's been folded and unfolded from one too many times. Sam had given it to Kara before the SAR Raptors left, somewhere in between his anger at her insistence on staying and his begging her to let him follow her back in. It hadn't been his fight, though, even if he and the Resistance had set fire to a number of the Farms in honor of Sue-Shaun, in honor of the hundreds or thousands of other women taken, in honor of her. Sam never knew the full story, but knowing Kara had been kept there at all had been enough for him to continue his efforts in her name.
"We'll be approaching highway 51 soon, can follow it back into Delphi. Should probably think about stopping…Sam marked off where they'd set up safe houses and supplies all over the area."
"I know," Lee says and squeezes her hand. It's strange to be alone with her, completely alone, possibly the last two people on the damn planet. After months of being surrounded by others at all times, they finally have peace and solitude—even if it isn't on soil that encourages those things, given the number of people that died there. "There's a house coming up in a few miles. We'll stop, resupply, and take our anti-rad meds." He's already thought about this, since even before they fought with Helo about the sudden amendment to the plan that meant the rest of the team would be returning to the fleet without the Commander or their best pilot.
It takes them longer to find the house than they thought, but they find it nonetheless, branches and detritus covering the dirt driveway that cuts off from the main road. The doors aren't locked, and it's an unsettling reminder that there isn't the threat of a strangers wandering in and stealing belongings, nor would a single lock meant to stall burglars be able to stop a few centurions.
Lee slips his pack off, dropping it to the floor beside a couch that still looks like someone slept on it the night before, throw pillows stacked on one side where a head most likely last rested. There are food wrappers and anti-radiation needles piled up in a garbage can, duct tape holding the fridge shut—Lee can imagine the Resistance fighters having to seal it shut to prevent the accidental opening that would have let out the noxious smelling fumes of food gone spoiled ten months ago. Lee finds the bathroom and pees into a toilet bowl empty of water, but still reaches for the sink when he's done, puzzled for a second as no water comes out of the faucet. He laughs at himself afterward.
Kara pushes the bathroom door open with her toe, wary. "What's so funny?"
"Nothing," his head shakes, wiping his hands off on the thighs of his pants like it'll do any good. "Find anything?"
She raises a brow, and with her teeth she tears off a piece of a newly opened ration bar, one of the handful they've each brought with them. "Some bottled water."
Kara offers the bar to him and rather than taking it within his own grasp, Lee dips his head down, bites a mouthful from where she holds it. "Tastes like—" He chews quickly, the consistency thick and difficult to swallow down "—sawdust."
"Yeah," she replies and leaves him on his own, heading back to the living room where she collapses into the couch, her hand unconsciously resting on the spare gun at her waist in constant preparation for the door to be knocked down at any moment.
Lee finds her like that, making slow work of the high-caloric bar and staring off at the far side of the room. "You okay? With being back?" He gives her space for the time being.
When she talks, she's quiet. "No, not really. Maybe we shouldn't have come…we don't even know where to start." In her head, all she can hear are Sam's pleas to reconsider the suicide mission she was embarking on. We've been here a long time and all we've ever seen come out of those places are dead bodies, he'd said. It was meant to reassure her, a last attempt at convincing her that the cylons weren't playing God with her DNA, but it didn't have the effect he'd wanted.
Lee kneels at the coffee table in front of the couch, sweeps his arm across the surface to clear the garbage away, and spreads their map between them. He's had his doubts about the plan from the very start, but if they leave now, find a Heavy Raider and try to return back to the fleet without even attempting what they came here for… Kara will never be able to live with the decision. And neither, he knows, will he. "This is the one where they kept you," he says and points out the black X, "we'll go there first, see what we can find. Maybe there will be records left behind."
She nods, letting him play mission lead for the time being. His voice gives her comfort, reminds her that she isn't here on her own.
"We can't ignore what happened back in the woods with the centurions. Something's going on, they're pulling out. Which means we don't have much time to work with, a few days at most. And the fleet, my father will wait as long as he can…"
"But we can't push it," she says in response. He volunteered his life to try to help her find peace on this planet, and whether they discover it or not, they do have every intention of going back. This isn't where either of them should meet their end.
"We should catch a few hours of sleep while it's still light out, head out before sunrise so we've got less chance of being noticed." Lee's talking as he operates, moving on from the map to force his hands through the contents of his backpack. He takes out the metal tin, opens it, and removes a pair of pre-loaded injections of their anti-radiation meds. Lee does her first, pushes up her sleeve and drags an alcohol wipe over her skin pale before he delivers the dosage. "One each should cover us."
He repeats the process, not bothering with a new swab when Kara's hands catch his. She takes the injector from him, guiding the needle in and pushing down the plunger, the medication entering his system with the slightest of burns.
"Thanks," he says.
She doesn't bother with proper medical waste procedure, tossing both of the used needles towards the heap of trash in one corner of the room. This, all of this, is another thing she hates. Aside from the danger and uncertainty of it all, there are no rules to follow. No one to yell at her about throwing her trash out or to clean up after her when she ignores them anyway. If they come back in ten years, her things will be exactly where she left them. While some parts of her may never have coped well with following rules, there's something wrong with knowing there are none to break.
Lee stands, folds the map back up and tucks it into his bag. "You sleep, I'll take the first watch."
Whoever trained him did it well, she thinks. All those rules were beaten into him in bootcamp and then reinforced at the Academy and War College. At the end of the worlds he's still the perfect soldier when he needs to be. She follows him into one of the back rooms, the master bedroom by the size of the bed, and doesn't even bother to strip down or take her boots off when she lays across the rumpled bedspread. It smells of Caprica, the way it smells now and not the fresh air it had before.
Lee climbs on beside her, gun in hand as he props himself up against the headboard. Kara's not content with it, though, and without his permission she forces the weapon from his fingers, clicks the safety on, and sets it behind her.
"If anyone comes, we're dead anyway," Kara whispers. It had been different in the Resistance camp, but now just the two of them against everything else? She's sure it wouldn't matter how hard they fought. He gives in and curls up next to her. Kara buries her face into his neck like she's been doing for months and lets the scent of him fill her nostrils, a mix of sweat and soap. It drowns out everything else.
The sun's coming over the horizon by time they make it to the suburbs of Delphi. No longer can the woods be their shade, shielding them from any prying eyes. They'll be exposed from here on out, and both of them grip their guns a little tighter, ready to shoot the first thing that moves.
The streets are emptier than they imagined and had been told about by the members of the Resistance. With her own two eyes, Kara saw the clean up job done to the city on her first arrival, the bodies all cleared and undoubtedly piled up in mass graves somewhere else on the planet. Trekking through the forest with Lee, that had been one of her true fears: stumbling across a deep pit made shallow with bodies stacked high. They were both grateful at having been spared such an image to haunt them for the remainder of their lives.
Sam and all the rest had talked of some cylon-gentrification process taking place city-wide, and while there was some repair work done to the buildings they passed—more as they got closer to the heart of Delphi—there weren't skinjobs or centurions to be found. They'd talked of cafes chock full of the fleshy models, sipping coffee and doing their best impressions of playing house and human, even a few cars being driven through the streets like children trying to understand how to be adults with their parents gone for the weekend. But what Kara and Lee find gives no sign of any life, even the kind that stems back to machinery rather than biological.
"Frakking eerie," Kara mumbles as they cut through an alley behind a supermarket she's shopped in once or twice before. Keeping off the main roads is still a good idea, even given the deserted nature of the city.
"No kidding." He rounds a corner into the parking lot, gun drawn and ready to fire as he keeps a look out. Nothing. On one hand, not having to fight their way through Delphi is a positive, and on the other hand, if the planet has truly been fully vacated, their staying behind would be in vain.
Kara leads the way back towards the old hospital, every step a physical burden as the building comes into view. It's grandiose, old construction rather than new, a building that had at one point in time probably been the pride of Delphi. Years before, she may have called it beautiful, longed for that style of architecture compared to the modern lines of her apartment and the even more plain accommodations she'd grown up in as a child. Now, it's nothing but a prison.
From behind an untrimmed hedge, they see their first cylon, a dark skinned Four heading through the overgrown back garden and into a rear entrance. There are a pair of centurions making the rounds, circling the property. They have two ways inside: shooting through whatever they find or praying to the Gods they don't get caught sneaking in. They say nothing, not even looking at each other as they make their move as soon as the chrome-plated toasters are out of sight. Together, they run like they've never run before, their jogs around Galactica a brisk walk compared to the speed they have together here. With a thud, their bodies smack into the side of the building, finding relief in the cool outer wall and the shade of the roof's overhang. Lee catches his breath and finally tugs on the door handle.
She folds her fingers through one of the shoulder straps at his back, reminds herself of the time that's passed between when she was last here and now. It's been nearly a year since she felt the linoleum under her bare feet and drove the glass of a mirror into the neck of the cylon masquerading as doctor that had his hands on and inside of her. She's not alone this time, either, and Kara knows without question that Lee would die to protect her from the horror she's endured here before.
Like everywhere else, the building is mostly abandoned. They stop, press themselves flat against a wall when they hear the shoes of someone walking by an upcoming intersection. Luck leaves them unseen and they blindly wander the hallways looking for life, peeking in doorways. There's relief on her face when they don't find any women strapped to tables, but there are a few dark rooms, the remains of whatever machines the cylons had dreamed up tucked away into corners. It still smells like death. Kara freezes in the doorway of one such room, looking into the blackness, unable to draw herself away. Lee touches her cheek to bring her back to reality. They move on.
She finds an office next, one that looks recently used judging by the mostly filled coffee cup on the desk. They're rifling through the paperwork in seconds, not bothering to try to conceal their tracks. Who knows when the current owner of the office will return, and they'd like to avoid confrontation if at all possible, even if it means leaving a mess behind that might attract unwanted attention.
"Anything?" Lee asks, shuffling through a file cabinet. He moves on to another, the prior one old and filled with information on patients from years ago.
"No," she replies, voice strained. Panic sets in the longer they stay there without finding anything of consequence. If there's nothing here, no paper trail to lead them along further, she isn't sure if there's any merit in staying on Caprica any longer. There has to be tens, hundreds, of these Farms across just this one planet, and they don't have the time, the anti-rad injections, or the energy to search them all for any sign of ties to her.
There's the creak of the door and shuffling behind her. Before she even turns around and sets her eyes on the other man, Kara knows they're not alone.
"Starbuck," the Four says, as though he could ever forget that face. "Didn't think I'd see you again."
She's not as threatening as she was the last time they saw each other, in fact, this time he knocks the wind out of her without even a touch. Simon makes a move to step back, hesitating as though he's unsure of calling for help to deal with the current mess or lunging at her himself. He doesn't get anywhere, though, because from the cylon's blind spot, Lee draws the stock of his gun up and hits it into the side of the other man's skull.
Apollo's like a machine himself, a perfectly oiled machine working without trepidation. As soon as the cylon falls, blacking out, Lee shuts the door to the room, jamming a chair under the handle to at least slow any future disturbances. He slides his pack off, pulls out a length of cord and starts the process of trussing the man up. When he realizes he's working alone, he looks up and over to Kara. "Is this him?"
Lee only works harder, not careful with the bindings and if they'll leave the man's skin raw from struggling later on, or force a shoulder out of its socket. This isn't about do no harm, it's about do as much harm as possible without leaving him dead. Downloading quickly would be too easy.
By time Simon comes around a minute later, Lee's got him behind the desk, secured to an old radiator at a variety of points. He's not escaping, not any time soon. Apollo stands over him.
"When I was here," Kara starts, still determined to find her answers in the paperwork the Four at least seemed to be keeping when she was his unwilling patient, "you took something from me. Where did it go?"
Simon blinks hard a few times, eyes shifting between the unknown man before him, and Kara, her nose buried in an accordion folder of files. "I don't know what—"
Lee introduces his fist into Simon's jaw, hears a crack. He flexes his fingers afterward, relieved to know the sound didn't come from the bones in his hand. "We're not frakking around," he bites out and starts winding some of the excess cord around his fist in preparation for the next blow.
The cylon's head hangs, sudden jerking spasms as he tries to lift the weight with his neck the only sign that he hasn't lost consciousness again. "We're trying to make peace, changing our ways…"
"Do you think I give a frak about some bullshit peace agreement you're offering?" Kara tosses the folders to the floor in anger and heads straight for him, outraged at his shallow words. She pulls at his collar, jerking him closer to her though the ropes prevent much movement. Lee's done good with that. "What did you do with my ovary?" Kara draws the knife from her leg and cuts one of his hands free from the bindings, pulls on his arm without concern. She's barely able to tug it across the small space to the old desk, his arm taut and strained as she opens one of the antique desk's heavy wooden drawers. Kara holds his hand steady where the pieces meet together neatly when it's closed. "You think you'll be a frakking doctor without your hands?"
Simon's eyes widen. Even if restoration is a download away, he can recall the pain of his last death, one that had been mercifully short compared to what he knows her anger is about to deliver to him now. He looks up to Lee for some kind of help, but finds none there. "It's not here!" He finally yells out, feeling Kara lessen her grip on his arm ever so slightly as he gives her what she wants. "I don't know what happened to it when it got to where it was going, but a Two came for it, said there was another plan."
"Where?" Lee asks.
"There's a smaller place," Simon coughs and takes a breath, the expansion of his chest burdened by the tightness of the ropes. "Medical wing on the Delphi Air Base."
Kara nods, looks to Lee for his affirmation as well.
"Please, God, please," the cylon pleads with Kara, asking for kindness where he showed her none.
She doesn't listen. Instead, she closes her eyes and thinks that maybe, just maybe, Socrata Thrace taught her one good thing in her life: how to make people hurt. Kara slams the drawer shut with every ounce of strength she's ever had in her life, Simon's hand held between, bones crunching and breaking.
He yells loudly, but it's cut off by a second hit of Lee's fist to his jaw, the opposite side this time. Blood dribbles down Simon's chin, and as he instinctively pulls his arm and hand to his chest, there's blood there too, staining the fabric of his shirt.
"You don't deserve to die," Kara says as she looks down at him, the pain on his face bringing her a sense of joy. Like mother, like daughter. Her stomach feels sickened at the very thought of how close of a line she walks. She reaches for her gun, large and imposing compared to the sidearm that sits secured to her hip. Grasping it around the barrel, she makes eye contact with Simon as she drives it vertically downward, gravity only helping to increase the force of her blow. The stock impacts with his knee cap.
Lee pulls duct tape from his bag, tears a piece with his teeth and uses it to keep the cylon's mouth shut. Kara drives her gun into the man's other knee.
They walk for miles without saying anything. There's shame for taking things so far, even on someone that's done her so much harm. He feels it, she feels it, and neither of them want to address what kind of manic episode they both let themselves be consumed by, washed over in rage. They have a few hours at least, until either another cylon finds Simon alive or the Four dies of the trauma and downloads. Whichever it is, there will be people looking for them when the moon's high overhead. They don't have much time left.
"Not gonna feel bad about what we did," Lee finally says stiffly, like he's trying to convince himself he really believes it. "After what he did to you, to everyone that went through there…I won't feel bad about it."
Kara grips her gun tighter in both her hands as it hangs from its strap around her shoulder and neck. She can still feel the way Simon's leg gave way slightly beneath her pure force and can still hear the familiar snap of the bones of his hand breaking like twigs underneath her foot. "Not like her," Kara repeats quietly to herself. "I'm not like her."
"Kara?" Lee questions, jogging a few steps to catch up.
"Nothing, Apollo," she's quick to respond, hoping to let it be brushed away. "If we find anything," she begins, but unlike the times before when things are hard to say, she actually finishes. This isn't something she can just hope for the best with. "We destroy it. Burn whatever they've got in a test tube or whatever the frak they're using. If there's women there, we unplug them, put them out of their misery. You got it?" It hurts her to say it all, but she can still hear Sue-Shaun's begging in her ear. No one would choose that kind of life, even if death was the only other option. They'll be doing them a favor.
Despite all their plans, that was the one thing they never came to mention. They never had the guts to think about what they'd do when they found what they were looking for. It would be one thing to destroy some cells in a vial, another thing to take an imprisoned civilian's life. But if it came to down to it in the end, he would do it. For her, he would do anything.
It seems that what little life remains on Caprica has gathered at Delphi Air Base. For an hour, Lee and Kara watch from half a mile off, Heavy Raiders packing themselves full of skinjobs and centurions leaving in droves. They both know they can't wait forever, every ship that takes off is another chance the cylons take that missing part of Kara with them, if it indeed still exists at all. Likewise, they can't begin to take on the numbers they assume still remain inside the buildings and out of sight, so they wait.
Night falls, though it's still fairly bright with the light reflected off of nearby Gemenon, and it's now or never. With all the grace they've only ever managed in the cockpit, Lee and Kara cross the property, stopping behind any obstacle in their way, taking cover and a breather while they can. They find an entrance easily—Kara's spent some time there in the past with its close proximity to the Academy—and they are relieved to find their first hallway empty.
For the moment, they think not of how they're going to get into a Heavy Raider and input their first jump coordinates that'll start them on their journey home, or even if that ship's going to have enough fuel to get them there. It's about survival, and like so many times before, it's about completing the mission. They follow the direction of voices, starting out soft and increasing in strength and volume the closer they get. What were mumbles before are audible now.
"…He said they'd be coming here when your sister found him. It doesn't matter, we're leaving anyway. We'll just do it sooner," a man speaks.
"Leoben doesn't know about this, does he?" A familiar voice says. Kara wouldn't forget it, not after the taunts the woman had yelled out in between beating Kara to within an inch of her life in the museum of that very city.
"No, and let's keep it that way. I'll help the Eight. Go, Caprica Six is waiting for you."
Lee listens for the sound of footsteps moving away and nods to Kara in signal. Now's their chance to overwhelm the skinjob left on his own, get the information out of him that they need, and move on. On three, he turns the corner, going in blind, but it isn't just the single model there—one he now recognizes as a Doral—a pair of centurions are along with him, motionless and waiting for orders. They don't need any, though, when they detect the presence of Lee and then Kara and their military issued boots skidding on the flooring in a desperate attempt to stop their momentum. Suddenly, the centurions arms raise, ready to shoot.
Apollo reacts just as fast and fires across the few feet of open space that separates both sides. Doral ducks down and the centurions shoot, moving forward as Lee and Kara's bullets dent and bounce off their outer hulls. Together, the pilots scramble back from the machinery, every second of precaution they've taken during the day all for nothing in an instant.
A shot cuts through the sleeve of Lee's shirt, skimming the outer flesh of his bicep and Lee cries out. Kara turns to him, she can't help it even if she knows she shouldn't, and by time she looks back to continue the offensive, there are hands on her. They aren't human or even the flesh that resembles it, but the long metal fingers of a centurion gripping her tight. It rips the gun from her hands, the strap around her tearing at a seam under the pressure the machine exerts. She reaches for her handgun at her hip, but the robot's other claw prevents her. She curses, bucks her hips and body, tries to fight it off. "Let me go!"
Behind her, she can hear Lee yelling and she sees the other centurion advance past her and towards him. There's the ring of more bullets hitting a target. Lee's still fighting for both of them, she recognizes, even as her centurion's arms wrap around her body fully, leaving her incapacitated. It starts to pull Kara away, the opposite direction from where Lee is, and it isn't just the crushing feeling of the cylon around her that begins to make her panic, but the fear of what is to follow. She struggles, seeking out any way to damage the machine, even trying to get her fingers in the open joints where they seem more vulnerable, but with only her bare hands, she fails miserably.
"Frakking fight me!" She yells at the machine in desperation, wearing herself out even as adrenaline fills her veins.
Doral's on his feet again, finally ordering the machines like he's supposed to. "Don't hurt them if you can help it, it's not part of the plan anymore."
"Kara!" Lee yells as they're drawn farther apart.
"Do it, Lee!" She screams in reply, begging and pleading, and turns herself around in the centurion's hold as much as she can until she can at least see him. She shouldn't have brought him, Kara thinks. He doesn't deserve to die like this, or become a part of some new frakking experiment. It was her battle to go at alone like everything else in her life, and now not only is she going to die here, but he will as well. "Do it!"
Apollo puts all his remaining might into getting an arm free of the centurion that's similarly grabbing at him. He manages to pull out his handgun and lifts it, muscles shaking as he does what he promised. Lee aims for her head and he pulls the trigger.
Kara knows the shot's coming so she shuts her eyes, braces for impact and the feeling of being absolutely nothing. She hopes that Lee has enough time to save a bullet for himself, and thinks about which brother will be with her on the other side.
The shot goes wide. The feeling never comes.
Lee's centurion knocks the gun from his hand and that's the end of it. Kara's screams ring in his ears, the complete terror on her face forever burned into his retinas. It's the last thing he sees or hears of her before his world goes dark.
Lee wakes, unsure of how much time has passed. He's against the floor on his side and his entire body hurts, especially the arm that he's not lying on. It takes him a moment to recall why, to relive the sensation of being shot. It's not a serious injury—infection is the biggest worry—but there's still pain, raw and real, and he's enough in his right mind to really feel it. Behind him, his hands are cuffed, the rattle as he struggles giving it away. Without the use of his hands, it's difficult to sit up, so he just gives in and stays unmoving.
He should try to figure out where he is, take a look around the room for more information, but as everything comes back, all he can think about is Kara. Part of him thinks that maybe he missed the shot on purpose. He was fighting with the centurion, but he could have made that shot. He's sure of it. Lee feels sick at the thought of what he's done—or failed to do—and immediately retches where he lies. Not much comes up; they haven't eaten a whole lot in the last two days.
Tears follow and he inches his body away from the pool of his vomit, letting himself wallow while he's alone. He won't show this emotion with a cylon, so he takes the time to let it out. There isn't much time for it, though, because the door across the room unlocks and opens. Lee isn't sure what to expect: a firing squad, a Four come to find a biological use for him, another model he hasn't yet seen to interrogate and torture him for being the Admiral's son and Commander of Pegasus, if they even know of his promotion yet.
The person that comes through the door alone is an Eight, one whose face is overcome with emotion at finding him in such a state. She doesn't approach, just shuts the door behind her and finds it impossible to take her eyes off of Apollo.
"Do you know who I am?" The Eight asks, keeping her distance.
He coughs and groans. "A frakking toaster."
There's some relief for half a second before she tightens up like all her other sisters. "Why are you here, Apollo?"
Tears are blinked away even if their tracks are still left over his cheeks and down the side of his noise as he lies horizontal. "What did you do with Kara?" His words growl.
"Starbuck?" She asks, puzzled and alarmed. "That's who the other one is? You came together?"
Lee can't place her at first. She looks just like the other models, just like the Sharon that brought them to Caprica and took the volunteers and Resistance fighters back to Galactica, just like the other copies dressed differently on this very base he saw heading out of the atmosphere and to, presumably, a base star. But there's a crinkle in her brow, pain in her eyes, and the way she keeps her distance out of shame and fear rather than protection. He knows who she is. "You're Boomer."
Sharon takes a step further back like he'll swing a fist even if he's tied up.
All the horror he felt at seeing her unload a few shots into his father's chest burns bright again. He grits his teeth to drown out the pain of being in the same room with her. "Is that what you do? Not enough to try to kill my father, your Commander, but you come back here and participate in this?" Lee shouts, forcing his body to twist and sit up. Where he gets the strength from, he's not sure. "You know what they do to women here? Do you know what they did to Kara!"
Her hardened shell cracks a little as she listens, feels the shift in anger from protecting his father to Kara. It makes her think of Galen, not that she hasn't thought about him every day since she last saw him, but because when they weren't frakking in a locker off the hangar deck, he was always complaining about Apollo and Starbuck riding him particularly hard. Oh how he wished they'd leave him alone and just frak each other already. She'd never wanted to see it, especially with her own traumas going on as she slowly was realizing who she was, but now she can't deny it.
"Apollo, you don't understand! There's a Six, we're turning everything around, making everyone see that they made a mistake. We want peace." Even to her, the words sound hollow.
"What did you do to her? Where is she?" Lee doesn't want to listen to anything she has to say, his mind focused.
"A few doors down."
He stops to consider how any of this can proceed. There are only a few options, and currently, the best one is standing in front of him. "Let us go," he pleads, letting the anger settle. More flies with honey, they always say. "Please, we'll leave, never come back. I can't let her get hurt here again."
"Why are you even here at all?"
"She came here a few months ago and was put in one of those Farms." Lee tries to see Sharon as the woman he knew her to be rather than the cylon she actually is. It's the only way he can talk to her without throwing up again. "They took part of her and I promised I'd come back to make sure it was destroyed. She can't live with not knowing. You understand, Sharon?"
Boomer had heard plenty of the Farms, had even worked with Caprica Six to shut many of them down as their power and influence had begun to grow. She distanced herself from them, though, because while some of her kind saw the reason for them to exist and looked to the women there as nothing more than cattle for their science experiment… she couldn't help but see them as new casualties on the already long list. She was a cylon, but she still quietly held the belief that she was more human than machine. As for Starbuck, she was her friend. Without question, Kara no longer felt the same way, but Sharon did and always would.
She pulls a key from her pocket and nears Lee, stepping around him to release his cuffs. "I'll get you off the planet."
He could have decked her, brought her down to the ground and bashed her head into the floor beneath them. If he was on his own he would've, despite how she seems to want to help, but Kara's still missing and he needs help to find her. Rising, Lee checks himself for any weapons. His sidearm is gone, his knife as well. He's defenseless, and that leaves him uneasy.
They walk in silence down the hall to where the second of the two prisoners is being kept. Sharon unlocks the door and Lee doesn't even wait for her to step aside before he pushes through. Kara's in a similar position to how he was, except her legs are tied at the ankles as well. Her cheek presses into the cold floor, eyes shut although he can tell she's conscious by how tightly her eyelids are flexed closed.
"Kara," his voice is shaky as he kneels beside her, put his hands all over her face to draw her back to the now. "Kara, Gods, are you okay?"
"You're a trick," she speaks, head shaking in refusal, eyes still clamped shut. "You're a trick. I'm just hearing what I want, but I won't go with you. Not willingly."
There are dried tears on her cheeks, just as Lee knows there are on his own, and he can't imagine what she's lived through since she was put there. Kara's probably been waiting, praying to her Gods that she can find a way to take her life before they pump her full of the drugs they need to prepare her to become just a host for some hybrid experiment.
Boomer unties her feet, then releases the handcuffs and backs off immediately. While she'd given Apollo the benefit of the doubt, she knows she shouldn't give that to Starbuck.
Lee kisses Kara's cheeks, clenched eyelids, and her hair, all the while whispering softly to her. He reminds her of things the cylons could never possibly know, reasons to trust him. "Boomer's going to let us go, Kara. But you have to get up."
With her hands free, she grips him, the physical touch doing something of reassuring her mind that it's not just a forced imagining. It's real. "Lee," she finally says his name aloud, opening her eyes to make it concrete. He helps pull her into a seated position and Kara's eyes flicker over his shoulder to Sharon. Disgust is in her mouth. "Can't trust her."
Boomer's head hangs slightly at the words. For a second, anger flares. She's helping them and still they don't want to believe she's capable of good. Maybe the cylons are right, after all. Before the thought can grow even more, she lets it go, not letting it take root. No, Lee and Kara have reason to be angry and distrustful. She's done them wrong. "If you want to leave, we have to go now." Most of her brothers and sisters remaining on Caprica will listen to her, but she knows an outspoken few will object if they get wind of what she's doing.
"No," Kara says as she stands up alongside Lee. Her head shakes in rejection of the idea. "Not unless I get what I came for."
"Kara…" Lee wants to object, but he has no energy left to fight with her.
"No, Lee. All of this was for nothing if we don't finish it." Their eyes lock and she knows he understands. Kara's attention moves back to Sharon. "You want to make anything you did right? Start by helping me. Find out where they're keeping my ovary. Let me destroy it."
Focusing down on her own clasped hands, Sharon contemplates Starbuck's words. Maybe it is just a ploy by the pilot, but maybe she's right anyway. She nods. "I'll have to use the data stream."
Sharon withdraws her hand from the fluid, shaking it dry. She says nothing, but starts to move, letting the heavy-footed Apollo and Starbuck struggle behind to catch up. She leads them to the other side of the building and down a floor, and when they encounter centurions standing guard, Boomer orders them to stand down. Without second-guessing, the machines step aside and allow the three access to the room. Sharon hesitates, her arm held out blocking the door before they proceed. Removing the gun from her belt, she turns it around and offers the handle to Starbuck. An action like this could spell her immediate death—or at least, a temporary one that ends up with her waking in a new resurrection chamber up in the cylon fleet that waits above Caprica—but she takes the risk anyway.
"Everything that's left of what they took is in there, Starbuck." She saw some things in the stream, things she doesn't want to acknowledge as being true, but it's not her place to say them out loud, not when they're feet from Kara seeing it herself anyway. "You might need this."
Kara eyes her, takes the sidearm and holds it firm within her grasp. She looks to Lee as Sharon opens the door, and with the weapon drawn for their protection, Kara heads inside.
There aren't any machines, at least not like the massive ones she's seen in the Farm. No women are to be found strapped down and forcibly incubating a growing embryo. There isn't a Four there, working at a lab bench like Baltar had at least pretended to do for their first few weeks on Galactica. Instead, what is there makes Kara come to a dead stop. Her arm becomes unsteady, but she tries to force it anyway, even as her hand trembles with the gun in its hold. For a second, her breathing stops entirely.
Ahead of them, an Eight is just as still, wide eyed even as she sees her sister standing beside the two intruders. "Sharon…what are you doing?"
Boomer doesn't reply.
Lee's view shifts from the cylon down to the small plastic bassinet a few feet from her. It belongs in a hospital, and for a second he cluelessly wonders what it's doing there. This may be the medical wing, but it's an Air Base, and he can't imagine many children ever would have been born here. What were they using it for? Nothing makes sense just yet.
All of a sudden, a single cry fills the room.
And in an instant, he understands. His chest shudders at the implication and he quickly looks to Kara, her eyes welled with tears that spill down her cheeks. She hasn't moved since they walked in.
"What'd you do?" Kara whispers, barely audible at all. No one says a thing in response, and this time when she speaks again, she yells it out, sharp and accusing. "What did you do!"
"I'm sorry, Starbuck," Boomer says. None of this had been her decision, but all the same, she feels responsible for it.
"Tell her to back off," Lee orders.
Sharon motions towards her sister Eight and the other woman obeys, side-stepping cautiously away from the blanket-filled bassinet and as far away as she can get from them in the small room.
Lee touches Kara's elbow, forces her arm down, and takes the gun from her. He holsters it at his hip and watches as she finally summons the energy to put motion to her feet, crossing the room to peer down into where the cry came from. He follows closely behind.
A hand is quickly brought to her mouth, stifling back any sound her body forces out involuntarily. Swaddled in a light green blanket, there's an infant. The youngest child she's ever seen, though granted, she's never seen many in her life. The child's eyes are closed, face crinkling and releasing every few seconds in obvious annoyance or discomfort. There's another cry, this one short and more like a warning than anything else. Kara's frozen. All she can do is watch and contemplate the horror that brought this baby into existence at all. There are no words to be said.
"Grab it," Lee says out of nowhere, "we're going." They don't have time to contemplate the moral obligations they have, or let their panic stir for any longer.
She does as told, dirtied hands quickly slipping under the child, scooping up the tiny form and the layers of blankets. Kara instinctively imitates the women she's seen on television and in films, cradles the child in her arms closely to her chest while careful of the weak neck she knows all newborns have.
"You can't!" The other Eight blurts out in a panic.
Lee's response is full of anger. "We are and we will!" His hand sits at his waist, ready to draw his weapon at a moment's notice, and unlike in the hallway, he knows he won't miss this time if he's pushed. A protective arm is stretched in front of Kara as he backs them up towards the exit and he nods to Sharon, an acknowledgement of their readiness. Finally.
With Boomer alongside, the centurions they pass back down as they take the long route to finally making it back outside, avoiding everyone they can. Kara's the slowest of the group, mindful of the child she carries, and Lee doesn't leave her side even if he prefers they move a little faster.
"Go," Boomer says, pushing both of them towards the edge of the woods at the back end of the property. "There's a park a mile and a half straight out. I'll bring the ship to you." There are too many other bodies milling around outside for her to be able to get them to a Heavy Raider without questioning. Her name only counts for so much and the risk of having all the others try to stop her—stop them—is just too large. There will be hell to pay for what she's doing, but so long as she doesn't pay it right now, Sharon thinks it'll be okay.
"Sharon—" Kara says, still shaken from the last few hours and especially the last few minutes. "Thank you."
Lee can't manage the words so he just nods his head in show of his thanks. Curling his arm around Kara's back, they head out for the distant line of trees.
The child in Kara's arms starts to cry, this time shaking and shuttering sobs, when the wind picks up overhead as the Heavy Raider comes in. She tugs one of the extra blankets up a little to shield the newborn's face from both the chill in the night air and the debris getting picked up by each artificially made gust. Beside her, Lee stands attentive, gun out in anticipation of the chance that Sharon's set them up or been found out. It isn't so, however, and Boomer's the only one to appear.
"She's got as much tyllium as she'll hold," Sharon says as Starbuck and Apollo near. There's no time to waste, so she doesn't drag it out.
Kara stops just before heading inside. "The baby, is it part cylon?" The answer seems obvious, but she has to ask. She has to be sure.
"Yes, he is."
Blinking away the pain that comes with Sharon's words, Kara glances down to the whimpering infant in her arms. She never wanted this, not ever. Even as a child she'd never dreamed of growing up to be a mother. Whether it was something else or her mother's doing—her relationship with Socrata always so inherently wrong, even from the start—she'll never really know. And now without the choice of her own, there's a living and breathing being that shares half her genetic structure crying in her arms. An abomination, she'd say, and she had thought it about Hera Agathon even before she'd been born weeks early and passed away not long after. An abomination and at the same time, hers.
"If you really want peace," Lee says aloud as he stares Boomer down, "you'll just leave us alone. You can't fix this, even if you think you can. Let us go, let us find somewhere to survive. You go your way, we'll go ours. That's the best you'll ever be able to do."
His words hurt, but Sharon knows her former CAG is correct. Her people have done their harm, and now they need to walk away and accept that nothing can ever be truly righted. "Good luck Starbuck, Apollo. And I'm sorry about the Old Man." She falters, steps back as the hatch starts to close with the others inside. "I never wanted to do what I did."
In the ship, Kara immediately forces the child in her arms towards Apollo. "Take it," she says.
He's careful in the way he holds the infant, but feels unsure of himself as he does. It brings up a world of feelings Lee knows he'll never be ready to deal with. Wordlessly, though, he keeps the baby steady, doing his best at drawing on what he remembers of his childhood, specifically the years after his younger brother was born. He'd watch his mother rock Zak, humming quiet songs as she shifted her weight between her feet, stroking the boy's cheek in comfort. Lee tries the same, but it comes out all wrong, his movements rough as he sways, his body exhausted and tired. The baby cries anyway.
Kara's got her boot off by time Lee looks over to her, and she's bent at the hip, pulling her sock off as she rolls up the leg of her pants. Across the skin of her shin and calf are a series of numbers, each row another coordinate for their journey home. They're all there, save for the very last. That one, both of them have committed to memory in fear of the fleet's safety. Writing down the numbers on paper seemed too risky, easily lost along the way, and considering they made it onto the Heavy Raider without their packs or weapons, their worry was founded. As for memorizing the coordinates for each jump, it would have been impossible to get exactly right. One number wrong and they'd be off course, never to find their way. Beneath the fabric of his own fatigue pants, Lee's skin is marked with the same ink. Just as he'd drawn hers, she'd done his so they both always knew the way home.
She climbs into the pilot's seat and with the same finesse Kara has taken to every ship she's flown, Kara lifts the ship off the ground. She may have only flown a Heavy Raider once before on her previous return from the planet, but it's still more than Lee, and they both prefer as little risk as possible. He sits down in the back cabin, still struggling with the newborn, and waits for the break of atmosphere. It doesn't come, and instead he feels the inward pull of the ship's organic FTL drive engaging, jumping them right out from Caprica's clouds and far away into the depths of space.
For a moment, they're safe.
"Do you think we did the wrong thing?" Kara vacates the pilot's seat and joins him where he is, sitting next to him on the floor. She needs a moment to digest the last few hours and days and to just breathe before they start the rest of the journey—that is, if Galactica and the rest of the fleet haven't moved on already.
His heavy-lidded eyes rest on the child he holds close and he drags the backs of his filthy fingers along the newborn's cheek. The baby's cries have grown intermittent. "What else could we have done? Killed him?"
Even she can't say that aloud, so she keeps quiet. They sit in silence, or relative silence, the quiet broken up every so often when the infant makes itself known. There's a particularly harsh cry, the kind that would elicit worry in even the coldest of human beings, and Kara drops her eyes to finally take in the sight.
There's blonde hair, nearly invisible with how thin it is over his scalp, and cheeks that haven't yet been made chubby after months of suckling at formula or his mother's milk. That thought makes Kara nearly vomit. Who is this child's mother? Some poor woman tied down for nine months, cut open and left to die? Or did they force her to give birth to the child growing inside of her that belonged entirely to someone else? Whatever the case, Kara knows that the woman is dead. She'd served her purpose and the cylons would have rid themselves of her when her usefulness was gone. Now, she's the only thing the child has left and Kara's not sure she can stand it to be that way.
"Can't be more than a week old," she says on an exhale. The room needs to fill with the sound of their voices for her to stop thinking and letting her mind run wild.
"Few days, maybe." Lee looks to her, watching as she's consumed by the child he holds protectively. He tries to offer him back, but she leans away a fraction of an inch and wraps her arms around her middle to make herself clear.
"L-Lee," Kara stutters. "What are we gonna do when we get back to the fleet?" She's not just talking about the anger they'll have to endure from his father and the President, but about what they're bringing back with them.
He doesn't have an answer for her. Not a good one, at least. "I know it doesn't seem like it now…but we did the right thing."
She tries to believe in his words, closes her eyes and repeats it. They did the right thing. Amidst everything else, she and Lee were the peak of humanity, pushing right back against the very opposite of it.
"If we have to," Lee starts and shifts the baby to his unwounded arm, "we'll lie. Tell them we found more survivors and they got killed, couldn't leave the baby behind."
There's a kind of sureness in his speech that she can't help but trust in. "Helo and Sam…they'll know," she replies.
"And they won't say a thing." After what Helo had endured over the loss of his daughter, there would be no question as to what he would do. As for Sam, he isn't someone that Lee knows, but for Kara, he has a feeling Sam wouldn't out her secret as well.
She's in agreement with him. "The President, she'd never let it stay in the fleet if she knew what it was."
He nods and begins to stroke the child's cheek in a futile effort at giving him some form of comfort. No doubt he's known little of that in his short life already: pulled from the mother that grew him, never talked to as his ears developed, never had a truly loving caress to his skin. "I know that he's yours, Kara… but it doesn't make him your responsibility." From the corner of his eye, he can see her tense. "We can find someone to take care of him and raise him. You weren't given a choice in the matter."
Moving so she can draw her legs up tight to her chest, Kara rests her head on her knees. "What if there are cylons still in the fleet, Lee? What if they go after it because of what it is? Hera's dead, this kid is the only hope the cylons have. You think they're going to let us get away with it? If I die an old woman never seeing the cylons again, I still won't believe it. And if its adoptive parents find out what it is? They won't want it, I know that. So no," her head lifts, staring him straight in the eyes, "it's not my responsibility, but who the frak else is going to do it? Who else can do it?"
"Just…" he sighs, shakes his head. It's an impossible situation, and that's without considering the fact that they could make the last jump back to the fleet and find everyone gone. They'd be done then, left to starve or return to Caprica and die there, albeit just a little later. "We have to get back."
Kara stands without even a look back to Lee and the child that belongs half to her.
"Wait." He says, eyes on the boy as he palms his small head and rubs his thumb over the filaments of white hair. "It should come from us—he needs a name."
She shakes her head with her back to him. "No, it doesn't."
"He, Kara. He." Lee hasn't missed her refusal to acknowledge it as more than a thing. At the same time, he's not sure why he has already grown to see the child as legitimate, real. "Joseph?" He intones questioningly.
"No." Kara responds immediately. "Doesn't deserve to be named after you or your family. I don't frakking care, Lee. If you want to name it, then name it something else." She returns to the pilot's seat to continue the course home.
Alone, Lee doesn't think of names or what they'll do when they find the fleet again. He knows what he said, that they did the right thing, but for a moment he contemplates the other side of the coin. Maybe they weren't meant to find this child at all.
The baby opens his mouth in a yawn, having temporarily tired himself out, and Lee thinks about what his brother would have done. Zak, selfless and the better of the two Adama boys, wouldn't have ever even thought of not taking the child with them. He'd have carried that infant out on his own without a second of hesitation. The baby belonged to Kara and that simple fact, no matter the paternity, would have been enough to Zak, he thinks. Zak would have protected it with his life.
In his brother's honor and because of what he feels for the woman at the helm of the ship, Lee vows to do the same.
I'd love to continue this story if there's any interest! Comments always loved and appreciated!