[personal profile] embolalia
Title: On Whom the Pale Moon Gleams (Chapter 4)
Characters: Kara, Daniel, background Kara/Lee
Rating: PG-13
Words: ~15,500 (2,600 this chapter)
Summary: On the other side of the maelstrom, Kara wakes up to truths she never expected.
A/N: Two chapters tonight to make up for posting so late! :)

Chapter Three

***

Chapter Four

Kara clenches her teeth. A day ago--or however long it's been since she flew into the storm--there was no way she could have told this story. Even now the memories burn with shame, but she doesn’t consider not answering. She tries to make it quick, stares at her hands folded before her on the table while she speaks. "It was hard after you left. You were right; she didn't understand. She wanted me to be perfect, and when I wasn't she punished me. A lot. Worse when she was drinking... teachers asked if I was alright sometimes, and doctors, but it's not like I was going to tell them."

"She hurt you."

Kara looks up at Daniel's sudden fury. She remembers what she saw in the storm. "She thought it was what she had to do."

Guilt suffuses his face. "Because of what I told her."

She shakes her head once, tells the rest of the truth. "She was always damaged. Before you. After you." Her fingers rub at one another.

He doesn't speak, tries to remember his Socrata, tries to imagine her hurting their daughter. Hears again the way Kara asked earlier, so desperately, why he couldn't bring her with him.

"The physical stuff stopped when I got older," Kara continues. "I played Pyramid in high school, and I was good at it. It kept me out of the house most of the time." She bites her lips together and takes a slow breath. "I had to stop, though. One night I came home and she was screaming. She'd found birth control in my room. She started throwing things at me. Plates." She doesn't look up at him. "A shard of something caught me across the back of my knee, sliced right through a tendon. I couldn't play after that." Kara swallows hard, remembering the disappointment, the rage she'd felt at the time. Remembering her mother explaining to the EMTs that it had all been an accident.

"I'm so sorry." His voice is strangled; his face, when she looks up, is dark with anger. This is how she'd once imagined Adama would react if she told him.

She shrugs it away. "I joined the fleet as soon as I graduated, hoping I'd be stationed somewhere far away. I ended up at the Academy in Delphi, but it was far enough." Now Kara smiles; this is where her life got good. "That's where I first got to fly. It was the most amazing thing I'd ever felt, and I was good at it. Everyone knew it. I'd never been good enough for her, ever, but finally--when I was in my Viper, I was free." She grins with remembered joy, then grimaces at a sudden thought. "If I'm really part machine--is that all it was?" She looks at Daniel hard for a moment, then snorts. "Then again, if being a machine made you a good pilot, why'd Sharon crash her Raptor all those times?"

In the middle of a nod, Daniel jerks to attention at the name. "Sharon?"

"I met her later." Kara winces. "At the end of my time in flight school, that's when Mama died. I didn't miss her.” As she watches, a shadow crosses his face, his eyes falling closed in grief. Kara studies him in amazement. There was a woman she never knew, that woman he thought Socrata could become. For an aching moment Kara wishes she could have met that mother. Her father looks up, and nods for her to continue.

“Anyway, then I got into some trouble with following rules my first year as a pilot, ended up back teaching at the Academy." She smiles faintly. It's odd to realize that of all the moments she could include in her life's story, this is one she can't leave out.

"I met a boy there, Zak. And his brother. Zak was my student, but he was also the first person who ever really loved me." She meets Daniel's eyes and feels momentarily guilty. "Loved me, loved me. You know. And we were going to get married, but he died." She shakes her head when Daniel opens his mouth to offer comfort. "It's okay. It was a long time ago."

"And his brother?"

She blushes. "Yeah. Lee and I..." It's hard to say out loud even after all they've been through. "We were connected from the moment we met. I've never loved anybody like I loved him." Somehow it's this admission that makes tears rise up in her throat. She’s just one of his pilots now. "After Zak died, I went to serve on their father's ship, the Galactica. That's where I met Sharon." She's saddened by the memory. “Cavil had wiped her memories, too, I guess. She thought she was human." Kara thinks of Athena in her cell, calling Kara her big sister. "There was a time when we were close, before we knew she was a Cylon."

"Everyone always loved her," Daniel offers softly.

Kara studies him for a moment. "Yeah. My friend Helo—he had a baby with one of them. Sharon said it was because they loved each other that they could. Like you and...my mother."

Daniel grins suddenly. "Yes. I asked Sharon once, back in the early days, what it was like to have a baby. I'd seen her pregnant, in the stream, as vividly as I ever saw her awake. She was shocked by the question. Leoben had to drag me away."

Kara winces at the weirdness of it. "Yeah."

"How is her child?"

Kara shakes her head. "She's been through a lot, but she's okay, now. Back with her parents."

"Cavil wanted her?" Daniel asks sharply.

She shrugs. "The Cylons did."

His face creases in worry but he doesn't reply.

"I was on Galactica when the Cylons attacked again, about three years ago. They nuked all the planets at once; we got away with a few dozen ships full of survivors." She sees Daniel close his eyes in pain at the news. "They chased us for nearly a year, while we tried to get away and tried to find enough food and fuel to keep ourselves going. We found Kobol and thought--we were trying to find Earth." It's like physical pain, realizing that was all for nothing. "Eventually we found a habitable planet where we thought we could hide and rebuild. We made it a year before they found us again. I got married down there, to a man named Sam." She sees her father smile but only feels sadness at the memory of that day. "But then..." Kara trails off with a shiver. She has spent so much time trying not to remember this part.

"I had met Leoben right after the attacks. I tortured him, because we needed to know what he knew. When the Cylons got to New Caprica he locked me up in this...house..." Her fingers twist together. "He kept saying he knew I was going to love him, that he'd seen it. But he was wrong."

Daniel's eyes are intense on her. "Did he know what you were?"

She shrugs. "I didn't know, how could he? The Cylons didn't even believe they could reproduce successfully, like you said. They tried all sorts of...things. Trying to make babies. But even Sharon had said that I…that I had a destiny." She suppresses another shiver. "It was was four months before Galactica and Pegasus came back to New Caprica and rescued us. Ever since then, it's been just more running. And trying to get over it. Lee..." Another thing she's never tried to put into words. "Lee helped me get better. We've always been closer to each other than anybody. But we couldn't--it's never worked out." She meets his eyes firmly, adamantly, as anxiety makes her heart race. "But he was flying behind me when I went into the storm. If he thinks I'm gone--he's tried to kill himself before. I have to get back to him now, before he--"

"You flew into it?" her father cuts her off.

Kara nods slowly. It's not something she knows how to explain. "When we reached that planet, when I first saw the storm...I'm not even sure...I started to see things. Myself, as a child. Glimpses of a raider, hidden in the clouds, leading me down into the storm. Was that you?" she asks with sudden urgency.

Daniel shakes his head. "No. I was waiting on the other side of the wormhole."

"Then..." She looks at him warily. "I saw Leoben, like a vision. Telling me I couldn't fight my destiny. That I shouldn't be afraid of death. He showed me Mama, when she died. It was like I was really there." Kara looks down, remembering with a sudden rush Lee's voice screaming for her to come back. "It wasn't even that I wanted to die, but I knew I had to do it. And I was okay with that. I had let everything go. Even him." She shakes her head, unsure even now exactly why she did it.

"The stream reaches each us in different ways."

Kara rolls her eyes. "More Cylon destiny crap."

Her father gives her a look.

She sighs. "So..." she begins. "I must have blacked out, and you found me after I came through the wormhole and put me in the tub to heal me? Like Ellen did with you after Cavil's attack?"

Daniel stares at her, horrified. "When you were a little girl," he swallows hard, "before I left. I took a sample of your DNA."

Kara's eyes widen.

"Your viper came through the clouds already splintering into pieces. It crashed on Earth. I was just hoping you'd be able to download, praying the whole time. And it worked."

Her breathing is suddenly very shallow. "I died."

He hesitates, then nods. "Yes."

Kara looks down at her hands: backs, fronts. Wonders what she'd see on an x-ray. She twists her arms. No trace of her tattoos remains. "Gods," she whispers fearfully. She tries not to tremble, shakes it off. She can deal with this later.

"That doesn't matter right now," she insists, to him, to herself. "The wormhole works the other way, right? We need to just go back!" She imagines for a moment what it would be like to watch Lee's Viper explode and feels sick.

"Kara." Daniel stands, looking down at her.

"What?" Kara breathes.

"Think about it," he says insistently. "It's been more than a day since they lost you. If they believed you about seeing enemy ships, they'll be long gone by now."

"They believed me," Kara snaps at the question in his voice. "Adama--" She winces at the words. "He's like a father to me. But he wouldn't--" He wouldn't leave without me, she almost says, but that's not exactly true. If Lee saw her die, if there were no more hope, then Daniel's right. The fleet would leave. "There has to be a way to find them."

He's frowning down at her.

"What?" she demands, standing to face him.

Daniel shakes his head. "I don't know what your destiny is from now on. I haven't seen further ahead than this in the stream."

"Gods, forget your frakking stream!" Kara shouts, crossing her arms. "Show me how to fly this thing and we'll find the fleet."

Her father purses his lips and doesn’t answer, just looks at her with a mix of love and pity.

"So you just brought me here to--what, keep you and your little tribe company?" Her hands are in fists now, eager for something to hit. There's no way she could have finally found a planet just in time to never find the fleet again.

He shrugs. “You’re meant to be here.” His calm suddenly grates on her nerves.

"Frak this." Kara spins and leaves the galley, strides through the tangle of corridors. She slows when she realizes Daniel's not following her. After a few minutes she spies the hatch from earlier, a mandala painted on the back. She traces her fingers over the ripples. Blue and yellow and red. Then she opens it and heads out into the night.

*

It's cold out on the planet's surface, but not as cold as Kara is stubborn, and she and Helo camped in worse than this back on Caprica. She makes it quickly to the edge of the field where they landed and peeks between the trees into the forest. She doesn't know what's in there; it's a strange world, after all. Then a bubble of hysteria fills her. Her father can always just grow her a new body if she gets eaten. Kara slumps down against a tree, gasping for breath as the sobs start to come.

She's a Cylon.

Just like Athena, just like Boomer, just like Leoben. More like Hera, maybe, but it hardly matters. She, Starbuck, is the enemy. There's a horrible irony to it, that she's been fighting herself this whole time.

Her father is a Cylon.

Gods she wishes she were really Adama's daughter. She'd even take being Lee's sister if this could just not be true. A sob turns into a bark of laughter.

Lee...she shot him. Was it something inside her that made her do it? Was it really an accident?

After all her aspersions on Helo's love for Athena, was hers ever real?

Kara presses her hands over her eyes as the tears fall. She tries to summon the memory of Lee's arms around her, of his laughter in her ear as he flew beside her. It feels so distant.

A day ago, however long ago, she made a choice. There was an instant where she took her hand off the throttle, stopped trying to fight the pull of gravity or destiny or whatever was calling her. She’s tried to put it out of her mind, but now she can’t. Lee was screaming out to her and she let go. Tears threaten again. She’s hurt people who loved her so many times, and now this: the worst betrayal, and she never even chose it.

She stays there, raging through her tears, as the night grows dark around her. And then, just as exhaustion is becoming more powerful than the cold, Kara wipes her hands on the edge of her shirt and looks up. Her breath fades away into silence. There above her is the answer, waiting in peace for her to see it. No matter what Daniel knows about Earth, or the thirteenth tribe for that matter, these are the stars the Gods showed her on Kobol.

Awe transforms her face. All the loneliness and pain that have driven her since Lee turned her away, since New Caprica, since Zak died and even before - she can accept it all, finally, because it’s brought her to this moment.

"Lords of Kobol, hear my prayer," Kara says, with the same whispered reverence that took her over the last time she saw this sight. "Thank you. Just let me show this to them. Just let me find them. Please."

The night answers her. All around her Kara can hear the sounds of insects and night birds now that her tears have stopped. Sounds of life.

She curls up on her bed of pine needles, unafraid, and sleeps.

***

Chapter Five
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embolalia

December 2016

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