| BSG, Life, Petrified
||[May. 24th, 2008|11:36 am]
by counterfeit (societal_casualty @ yahoo.com), 14 May 2005
Summary: The week that never happened.
Spoilers: All of season 1
Disclaimer: I don’t own Battlestar Galactica and I don’t profit from this fic.
Note: For ilanabean42 as part of Paris’ BSG ficathon, who wanted Kara/Lee banter and UST without it being cheesy, Tyrol, and Cally. I hope this meets to your satisfaction on some levels (sorry about the UST).
I’ve heard that the Five Things format that I borrowed from was created by Basingstoke in a Smallville story called “Five Things that Aren’t True,” but don’t hold me to it.
Beta: Kez, without whom it wouldn’t make sense and who added a proverbial jar to the proverbial bookshelf.
Day 1: The eye
He stumbles and lands face down on the sweaty rack blanket as the door to the cell clanks shut.
“Sleep it off, Chief,” one of the new recruits who landed guard duty says, too familiar from someone so green.
“The XO’ll let you out soon,” the other says. “Maybe.”
Their footsteps echo down the hall that’s dark because one of the lights blew again—he was supposed to have had that wiring fixed last week—until Tyrol hears another heavier door shutting. He resituates himself so he’s somewhat upright with his feet firmly planted on the ground as counterpoint to his head being somewhere else. “Frak,” he says.
“I can get behind that,” someone says from the cell across from his, and his head spins just the slightest from looking up too quickly to see. There’s a girl, a teenager—her eyes are narrow and angry and she can’t be more than fifteen—lying righteously on the rack like she’s trying to look like she belongs in there as another prisoner of conscience.
“What’re you doing in here?” he asks.
“What are you doing in here?” she shoots back.
“You’re a civilian.”
“No shit, really?”
The door at the end of the hall opens up again. Tyrol can see a recruit escorting a guy in an orange jumpsuit down the hall, but not their faces. The recruit opens the girl’s cell; she had sat up to greet them with defiant brown eyes and a sneer. It’s not until the recruit’s gone that the guy walks into her cell.
“What did you think you were doing?” the guy says to her.
“I don’t think, remember, Dad?” Tyrol can’t see her face around the guy’s back, he wishes he could.
“Don’t call me that,” the guy yells and grabs her by her long, black hair. He pulls her to stand and backhands her.
“Hey,” Tyrol yells and shoots forward to bang against his bars. “What the frak do you think you’re doing?” But he might as well not exist.
“Apologize to me,” the guy says, right in her face.
“No,” she says; the part of her jaw Tyrol can see is rigid.
The guy shoves her head-first into the wall.
“Leave her alone!” Tyrol says. He tries to make enough noise to get the recruits to come in, but they don’t. Tyrol thinks that there’s a reason new recruits aren’t trusted with anything really vital to the ship’s safety.
The guy kicks her in the stomach with his heavy black boots over and over, and screams things at her Tyrol can’t make out. Tyrol’s frozen by this, when her body stops moving beyond the way his boots repositions her, watching it all in horror. All the girl does is gasp and groan.
It’s maybe a dozen kicks before the recruits come in shouting and pull the guy back. But the guy struggles. He ends up falling into the corridor and Tyrol can see his face through the bars—and it’s his face—Tyrol’s face, lined and weathered, framed by gray, but his.
Tyrol stares at the guy. “I would never hurt a kid,” he grinds out. “Not my kid.”
“Don’t listen to the freak, she’s not your kid,” the guy says calmly with a voice that just slams ruthlessly into a slot of recognition in Tyrol’s head. “She’s not anyone’s kid.” He looks over his shoulder, and so does Tyrol. The girl is smirking again, bloodily, on the floor, with Sharon—beautiful, sane, worried Sharon—kneeling above the girl but looking at gray-free Tyrol with pleading eyes.
That’s when he opens his own to Cally standing over him and the bottom of the next rack up over her. “Come on, Chief,” she says. “Shift starts soon.” She frowns. “Are you feeling okay? You look kinda—”
Tyrol shakes his head and scrubs his face with his hands. Her face crumples into understanding and she leaves him alone. Eventually, the barrack gets quiet. Everyone makes it a point to leave him alone like they don’t know what to do with him. His body aches like it’s old, but he’s sure that’s just from what happened on Kobol.
Day 2: The lull
It was poetry. The way she pulled the gun, the shudder that went through the room—all eyes on her to watch her be praised and the CAG in handcuffs. All was calm until the bangs shattered it like this fragile artifact and life became ridiculous. Just frakking ridiculous.
Lee remembers it now with a full orchestral soundtrack, the images fling through his mind in slow motion. He sees Kara there, because she should be there to hold the old man’s life in his chest and scream for help. She would’ve gotten someone to react that much faster—get your heads out of your frakking asses and do something, maybe—his life would be saved if she had been there.
“He’s not dead yet,” Colonel Tigh says with a hand on his shoulder that’s the only comfort this man knows how to offer. He’s the old man now. He took the cuffs off Lee’s bloody hands himself.
“He’s not dead yet,” Kara says and Lee thinks that he must be hallucinating.
“Come on, Lee. You haven’t slept in a few days.”
“I’ve done longer.”
“That was with stims.” He thinks she means to add ‘you frakking moron’ with her tone, but doesn’t. She is somber and that scares him.
“It’s not my fault the doc won’t give me any.”
“We need our CAG.”
“Tell that to the doc.”
“I did. We agree you need to be reintroduced to your rack. I have full authorization to do so forcibly.” She forcibly smiles a threat in the last part. It was almost please, let me, but it instead falls into some faked range Lee doesn’t want to think about.
“He might wake up,” Lee points out, wishing he didn’t sound half as young when he did, but he was kind of resigned to it.
“I’ll send someone to get you when he does. Lee, we need our CAG.”
“I know.” The first time Lee’s moved in hours is to stretch the exhaustion from every joint and muscle in his body. Suddenly he’s thirteen again and Zak is bursting into his bedroom with a shit-eating grin to say that going without sleep and stims for seventy-two hours made someone legally insane. So Zak was going to do it.
He did, because that was the kind of kid Zak was. It made him manic and wide-eyed. He was only starting to see and hear things that weren’t there when Mr. Greskin’s math class claimed him. Zak didn’t even get a detention for snoring through the lesson when Lee probably would have been suspended. But that was the kind of kid Zak was.
Lee doesn’t get like that. He’s not sure how long he’s been sitting by his father’s bed, tracing the wires keeping him alive with his eyes. His dad is so pale and still for so long, like when Zak died, only now he isn’t even blinking. Lee wants to leave before he starts to, because Lee starts to think he’s watching a corpse and he’s so sure it would happen. The ship needs its CAG; Lee needs to be all there; where are the Cylons? They might attack at any time, and the pilots would need their CAG.
He passes Kara at the door and tries to stop thinking that it’s a changing of guard for the deathwatch.
Day 3: Negate
Colonel Tigh sits heavily on a stool beside Commander Adama’s bed. It’s nighttime; only a few of the overhead lights are on. Just enough to make his face look strange and pale and shadowed. Tigh refuses to let himself think that his friend is dying.
The doctor comes by to check on the commander—take his pulse, change his dressings. He puts a hand on Tigh’s shoulder when he’s done, before he leaves and closes the door behind him. There’s one private room in the infirmary, Tigh can’t remember why, but it makes it that much easier to put Adama under protective guard just in case.
When Starbuck came back she got Lee to go off to his rack.
“I still have to throw her in the brig,” he says, but there’s no passion in it. “She should have been discharged by now. Punished. I didn’t have the heart.” He laughs at himself. He remembers the look on her face when she went into this room, remembers finding it necessary to leave her and Lee alone with him.
Tigh remembers walking on to the bridge and not knowing what to do with his hands. Gaeta orchestrated a clean-up effort. There needed to be a ship-wide announcement, something; Tigh didn’t know what to say.
“I’m not cut out for this,” he whispers. “You have to wake up, old man.”
Tigh leaves with a nod to the Marines who pull the door closed behind him.
Day 4: Petrify
Cally stands in the middle of a storage closet; the deck is cold against her feet.
She doesn’t know who she’s mad at or why she’s standing there when she should be asleep.
Chief Tyrol came back from Kobol bloody and pissed. The universe took yet another nosedive from there.
He was asleep in his rack making these pathetic little noises again, another night in a row, until she couldn’t stand it anymore. Tom above him swung down and woke him up, Cally whisked out of the room and into one of the storage closets with the boxes of possessions no one is left to claim.
She thinks she might look for the box marked with Helo’s things; she thinks she might make sure no one’s been grave robbing; she thinks she might start to cry. But all she does is stand in the middle of a dark storage room and breathe.
A lesson comes to mind, with Miss Sevent’s old-hag face in hers humiliating it to memory: Petrify, verb. To convert into a stony mass; to make fixed or immobilize, as in the face of danger or surprise.
Cally is petrified without words or reason and it makes her wholly uncomfortable to realize. Even when she’s scared she’s supposed to be a soldier, trained to work through that kind of shit for the better good. Anger wells up through her body at everything that makes her like this: she thinks of herself, of the chief, Cylons, Boomer, everything she’s lived through in the last few weeks.
Gods, she can still think of it as a few weeks. It hasn’t been that long.
Cally stands in the middle of a storage closet; the deck is cold against her feet.
She doesn’t know who to be mad at.
Day 5: The wait
It’s a dream.
Lee and Kara are running through this long grassy field until their lungs should be burning and their legs should be aching. They’re laughing. Kara is up ahead of Lee, goading him on. Lee is teasing her back. Bill is smiling from his vantage point above, Lee is smiling, Kara is smiling. Zak is waiting in ambush position. His wife is waiting as a matriarch over their little clan. She’s smiling beautifully, directing Lee and Kara where to run, telling Zak when to jump up and attack and sweep Kara into his arms. All three are running and jumping, trying to fly through the air, following their mother’s directions until they fly over a cliff and into the ocean below.
Day 6: When all else fails
He’s shoved into a cell. The one recruit says to sit tight and sleep it off, the other that the XO’ll let him out eventually, maybe. Except this time it’s Sharon in the cell across from him with two pissed off Marines at either side of her door.
“Take me somewhere else,” he demands and his voice is less slurred than he was a few minutes ago. “Tell them to take me somewhere else!”
The Marines ignore him, the recruits ignore him. He hears one heavy breath out of Sharon, like she’s about to cry, pressed against one wall, and he closes his eyes and rests his head on the cool bars.
She starts to cry—he’s only heard it once but he remembers the sound because it scared him so bad. He opens his eyes and the girl from his nightmare is in the cell with Sharon, on the floor, curling in on herself while the guy who couldn’t possibly be Tyrol kicks her.
He kicks her and kicks her until his boots are bloody from her face—she must be unconscious or dead, because no one could take that kind of a beating silently. The guy is screaming at her and Sharon is still against the wall with tears streaming down her face.
And then he hears it. This animal sound, this death sound coming from the floor. The girl is crying tears of blood—there’s no frakking way she should even be alive after all that. But the guy stops.
“Gods,” he says and sinks to his knees as soldiers Tyrol doesn’t recognize clamor in. “Gods, she’s human.”
One of them crouches beside her, gingerly touches her neck. There’s no surprise in the soldier’s voice when she says, “she’s dead.”
The other two put the guy in cuffs and drag him into the hall. He’s crying tears of salt.
They block Tyrol’s view of the girl for a second; when he sees the cell again Sharon’s holding the girl’s face to her chest, cradling her collapsed skull, crying over her.
Tyrol’s stomach churns and he closes his eyes, lays his face against the cold floor.
“You okay, Chief?” Cally asks and he hopes like crazy that he’ll wake up in his rack again, even though he knows this time is different.
“Little hung over,” he says. His voice is as warm as her hand against his cheek. He feels her brush wetness across his cheek; he doesn’t remember crying himself but it doesn’t surprise him. “Come on,” she says.
Tyrol opens his eyes and sees Sharon watching him. Anger rushes over him as familiar as the feeling of his boots and fists against his little girl’s body. Sharon’s eyes are red and wide and begging.
“Stay out of my head,” Tyrol almost growls. Cally pulls him up by his arm. “Whatever the frak you did to me.” His anger would have been more accurate and imposing and satisfying right now in her face, like that guy did to that girl, and the thought terrifies him. Two cells away it’s just impotent. “You’re not Sharon,” he says like he believes it.
Cally drags him out without looking anyone in the face. He doesn’t think to ask why she came to get him.
Day 7: Rest
His vitals dip and try to stay there for a while. It makes them think of death just once more but when they find out it’s well after the fact, everything is back to normal in his room. Lee collapses into his rack for just a minute—just a weak, wary minute that stretches into a three-hour nap.
It’s a dream.
Lee is running with Kara through a field of long grass. He tries to catch her, but she dances just beyond his fingertips.
“Come on, you can do better than that,” she laughs.
“I can kick your ass.”
“Yeah? Let’s see you try.” She pulls a face at him and laughs. He runs faster and reaches out for her, catches the skirt of this long white dress she’s wearing. It rips off at the waist. Kara’s wearing a flight suit underneath.
Lee blinks and the field is gone. They’re both in their flight suits on a dusty stretch of land that’s never going to end.
“We’re frakked,” Kara pants. She sits against a rock and clutches her bloody knee.
“You know this is your fault.”
“If I recall, you were the one who threw the first punch,” he says. Lee sits next to her.
“I was defending your honor.”
“Isn’t the guy supposed to defend the girl’s honor?” He’s got a wry grin.
“It’s a new era.” She bats her eyelashes and smirks.
“My honor was fine.”
“But your Viper’s wasn’t. You should have heard what that guy said. Deserved a good punch. Reeducation.”
“Funny how no one heard what this guy said but you.”
“It was bad. Trust me.”
They’re silent, and then: “Lee?”
“I think you’re dying.”
He feels the bullets in his torso as big chunks of metal and wetness. “Yeah, probably. I think you’re dying, too.”
He takes her hand and they huddle together in the dust, their suits turning brown with the wind. Soon enough they’ll just look like another part of the rock poking them in their backs. They hold each other as they slowly die.
And then Lee wakes up.