[personal profile] embolalia
Title: Destiny
Pairing: Kara/Leoben
Rating: R (for references to canon violence, sex, and child abuse)
Word Count: 2,000
Summary: Ten times destiny shapes their lives. (Written for a prompt from [livejournal.com profile] deborah_judge from ages ago, and for the [livejournal.com profile] bsg_epics Pentathalon!)
A/N: This can be read as a companion to my stories Prayer and Violence, but they aren't strictly related.

It’s late at night and unusually quiet. Most nights there’s yelling and screaming. Kara wakes, startled by the silence. After a moment she hears them, creeps to the door.
I have no other choice, Socrata. When this is over you’ll understand that. But you have to make sure Kara grows up ready for her destiny. Her future is so bright.
It’s the last phrase that lingers in her memory years afterward, more than him coming in minutes later to press a kiss to her sleeping forehead, more than any of her mother’s rants about her special destiny.
Her father believed in her.

It happens in his early days, so he cannot say later when exactly it was; at the time he is not sure if what he’s hearing is present, future or past.
“There’s something special about him,” his mother says. When Leoben turns he sees a smile lingering softly about her eyes.
“You’re just saying that because he has your fancy oracle DNA,” John snaps. “Sentimentality is a human trait, mother. Yours hardly makes him special.”
Ellen’s touch brushes Leoben’s hair back from his forehead. He doesn’t have words yet, but he knows her, and she knows him. So it begins.

D’Anna wakes one night in tears, and Ellen explains to them all that dreams aren’t real.
Leoben believes for a while that she might be right, though he knows his dreams are different. In his dreams time flows past, allowing him glimpses of himself, his siblings, his parents. They are confusing, but always true.
He wakes one morning to find Daniel’s body broken, sees the blood on John’s hands. His grief is deep but not surprising.
For days he fights to stay awake, but when sleep comes it brings not nightmares but promises: she will be real one day, too.

Kara waits with the other children in her white consecration robe, perfectly still for once, her token clutched in her hand. When she reaches Apse of the Oracle, she holds it out.
“Why have you come, little one?” the oracle asks softly.
“To follow the will of the Gods,” she answers by rote.
The woman takes her hand, then gasps. For a moment colors swim behind Kara’s eyes. The oracle pulls back swiftly, her eyes sad. “They will ask much of you,” she promises. The words are scripted, ancient, but seem to echo meaningfully in the chamber. “Embrace your destiny.”

Leoben has always seen more than John thinks, and now he is perhaps the only one to understand: John takes them away one by one, brings them back somehow less. When he sees John take Ellen toward the lab, Leoben wants to cry out, to save her all the pain and suffering this will bring. But he’s seen their end, so he holds his tongue.
When he wakes the next morning, he too is less.
He cannot see what was lost; all he knows is her face and a depth of hope and faith no power could ever strip away.

She’s ten when her mother breaks her hands. At the hospital Sister Frances is there, putting herself between Kara and Socrata, murmuring under her breath that she can take Kara somewhere safe.
Socrata’s words come unbidden to Kara’s lips: “My mother is guiding me to be strong enough for my destiny.” Her head swims with painkillers, but Kara feels the truth. When it’s time, she’ll be ready.
Socrata finds them then, and Kara can’t focus on their argument over the throb of her pulse in her ears. As she closes her eyes she can hear her father’s voice. So bright.

At first the emptiness haunts him, words on the tip of his tongue that he cannot know. The hybrid who once spoke to him of the glorious future murmurs now in riddles and rhymes. Leoben fights for a glimmer of understanding, but the words are meaningless.
The harbinger longs for endings but cannot know her end. All systems converge toward the singularity. End of line.
Leoben repeats it to himself, over and over, prophecy his mantra. The words bring peace but no answers. When the others ask, he promises them what he knows without reason: they will achieve their end.

He knows her.
She enters the room, leaning on her cane, anger in her eyes, her fierceness and beauty unmuted by their setting.
Her words are harsh and cold, but Leoben is beyond them. He’s seen her laughing and crying, holding their child and whispering words of love. He knows the sensation of her lips and her body surging eagerly beneath his own.
There is no pain she could offer that would diminish the joy of this moment, of his sudden certainty that all the pain and suffering human and Cylon have endured with find its meaning in Kara Thrace.

Kara stares, stricken, heart racing. She’d thought nothing of examining the quarters the Cylon had made for himself in a storage compartment. Except there, filling a wall, is an image that’s as much a part of her as her heartbeat.
It haunted her dreams in childhood, made its way into her art time and again without any intention of her own. Kara runs a fingertip over the mandala and her fingers itch for paint. She can feel the phantom pressure of Leoben’s fingertips against hers, believes for a moment that she must have been here with him, guiding his hands.

Kara doesn’t believe him.
He goes back to her over and over, willing to take any punishment because of his faith that somewhere inside she really does love him. He holds onto it even as her knife drains his heart, as her hands crush his windpipe.
The child walks up to him, in the middle of the marketplace, her eyes wide and her hair curling like light around her face. Leoben nearly weeps. He wonders if the little one recognizes him as he recognizes her. When he lifts her and presses his face to her hair, she holds on tightly.

There have always been gods and idols and oracles - and Kara has always held to them as a stabilizing truth, a grand scope to give meaning to a soldier’s life of bloody suffering and death.
Destiny, though, exists beyond the temple walls. It has power that defies codification or mythology - power she has never doubted. She feels it when she paints, when she closes her eyes and lets the colors find their shape. She feels it when he touches her, a pressure on her soul to match his fingers exploring her skin. Kara shudders in terror and longing.

She doesn’t want to.
She doesn’t want to kill him.
Leoben’s lips are warm and soft and his tongue is in her mouth and in spite of everything - Sam waiting and Kacey watching and all that’s come before - Kara wants only to kiss him back.
Her knife slides in without resistance, and he gasps roughly against her lips. For a moment Leoben’s fingers cover her own, as surely as his mouth on hers. He nods, holding her eyes. She can almost feel the stream flowing around them as they stand in its path.
Leoben falls to the ground.

For months she’s tried to forget, tried to lose herself in drinking and fighting and loving. But when she holds the pictures in her hands, none of that matters anymore.
Helo leaves and Kara goes to her locker, begins with shaking, bandaged hands to fold her clothes, to arrange the few things she has left to her name into some sort of order. There are tears on her cheeks as she thinks of Lee without her, of Sam and Bill and Kacey.
She lays back down, and remembers the first days after her father left, and wonders how he knew.

Socrata has an album, full of photos and souvenirs. Kara turns the pages, mesmerized. Leoben is trying to tell her something about love, about life and loss, his voice droning in the distance. But his message is for himself, not for her.
When she sees it, she finally understands, like the taut string of a bow suddenly released; she’s the arrow flying free.
There, painted by her childish fingertips, is the mandala. It has always been part of her. Before her mother’s cruelty, her father’s abandonment, before Lee’s love, or Leoben’s--this was always her destiny. Hers.
Kara closes her eyes.

Leoben turns, and he’s alone.
He wakes on the baseship, shocked into alertness. Kara Thrace is gone. He can’t feel her as he reaches out into the stream, can’t grasp hold of a single vision of their future or memory of their past. Even her image, her taste, the smell of her skin seem just out of reach.
Panicking, he runs naked to the hybrid’s chamber and reaches for her hand.
“Tell me,” he gasps. “Tell me where she is.”
Engines full. The event horizon cannot be breached. Existence has no bounds but love.
The tile is cold beneath him.

He knows instantly that she’s returned. The universe reforms around him, equilibrium restored. Her distant presence drives his every decision: to empower the Centurions, to break with John and the others, to fly without any guidance but dreams. Leoben has seen the coming moment with perfect clarity. He’ll fly to her; she’ll come for him; she’ll wrap her arms around him and let him show her the way.
Nothing compares to the reality of it. Their fingers weave together as the paintbrush speaks to them of destiny. It is the closest he has come to transcendance since his earliest memories.

Kara carried something back with her that goes beyond words. It beats in her chest, driving her onward faster than she can make sense of her surroundings.
Only in Leoben’s arms does she finally find stillness. Kara nearly weeps with relief. She relaxes into him, daring to ask because he’s always claimed to have the answers. “We are going to Earth, aren’t we? I came back to show them the way?”
His lips on her temple are another answer; his mouth covers hers and she loses herself in his embrace.
“You will lead us all to our end,” Leoben whispers.

Before a day has passed, they stand before Kara’s crashed Viper, her burned body. Leoben is overwhelmed by confusion as he has never been in his life. The stream roars in his ears, incoherent white noise drowning out her screams.
He runs blindly, grasses whipping at his face, tangling around his feet. He tears them from the ground.
If this is their destiny, then every vision was false, every kiss meaningless and empty. Their races have suffered across time and space to die lonely on a dead planet.
This truth unmakes every promise.
He has nothing else to give her.

They wander off, away from the others, beyond the limits of what human or Cylon eyes have seen.
For a long time they walk in silence. Finally Kara stops. Leoben turns to her, sees the tears on her cheeks. “I don’t understand,” she says. The words hang between them. “The mandala, whatever it was that happened to me--if it was my father’s music all along--” she shrugs, shaking her head, as angry and lost as she ever was on Earth. “Then what did any of it matter?”
Leoben reaches out to take her hand. “I saw this once,” he offers, “in a dream. And I didn’t know how we were supposed to get here, but it’s where we were meant to be. All of us together, human and Cylon, at peace and starting over.”
“Our destiny.” The words are bitter on her lips.
His grasp tightens. “But if it is, then it’s finished. We’re free of it.”
Kara blinks up at him, and starts to smile. She glances back, at the trail they’ve left through the grass, then further on, beyond the woods at the distant mountains. She laces her fingers through Leoben’s. “So where do we go from here?”

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