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Author’s Notes: 've been working on this little piece for a while. It's my first ever non-A/R fic (no, I'm not abandoning ship) and I'd love to know what you think! Special thanks to tjonesy and innealta for their wonderful beta help.
Every day the Cylon pauses at the single pane of clouded glass. The cell beyond is small and stained and cold. She can always see the body on the floor, pale skin shining white in the harsh overhead lighting. The prisoner’s vibrant red hair fades with each passing day, until it no longer draws the Cylon’s eyes from the blood that mars her skin. The woman shakes uncontrollably, whether from pain or cold or fear the Cylon can’t begin to discern. She knows only that she is drawn here, and that one day it will not be enough simply to bear witness.
Time is a blur, its passage marked by the rhythmic throbbing under her skin. Reality has atrophied to a blinding square of light, distant and surrounded by darkness. Pain gnaws constantly at her bones. She can’t feel the skin that remains pressed against the once frigid concrete floor. She used to pray, long whispered verses for a woman and her adopted child, for a man among the stars. She has never cried. Not until the day she realizes that she no longer remembers the words.
Caprica Six’s hand stills briefly at the half whispered word; the pads of her fingers hover over a patch of torn, swollen skin. Her fellow Cylons have been cruel, and it’s taken Caprica a long time to clean and disinfect the jagged wounds that disfigure Laura Roslin’s pale back. Caprica knows that Laura believes her to be yet another cog in the Cylon interrogation machine. The soft, giving hand that tries to extract with sweetness what the violent hand cannot.
“Leave me alone.” Roslin’s words sound brutally honest. Her voice is a dry shadow of what it was when they had first brought her in, all formality, tact, and maternal undertone stripped away. Only defiance can still be detected. Caprica lays her hand flat over Laura’s bare hip and ignores Laura’s words. She knows that Laura needs to say them, that without them she is lost.
“God has asked that you accept your penance. Embrace it. With suffering will come God’s forgiveness.” Her hands sweep gently over Laura’s body; she carefully avoids the swelling and bruising and soothes the human woman’s remaining unblemished skin. She coaxes undamaged nerve endings to come alive and drown out the pain that still causes Laura’s body to tremble. Laura’s breathing changes cadence, and Caprica smiles. She was, after all, designed for this.
9 months later.
Gaius Baltar is half naked. Laura stands briefly with the other witnesses, drawing strength from their conviction, from the hatred that radiates almost visibly from their forms. All of them are survivors of New Caprica; all of them are survivors of attempted genocide.
She can feel every rent in her skin, every bruise and every cracked bone as if they had never healed. She can see the line of Cylon drones standing in front of her, their claw like hands flipping back to expose the barrels of loaded rifles.
The marines continue to peel away Baltar’s clothes. Laura walks towards him, her heels ringing against the concrete floor. His face is tear stained and partly hidden beneath his unruly hair and beard. She steps close so as not to be overheard.
“You will not have your dignity. You will die as they did.”
“Funny … revenge doesn’t suit you.” The marines push his pants from his skinny hips.
“Nor the Presidency, you.” Laura motions to the marines, never taking her eyes from Baltar’s face. “Clear a path.”
“I am entitled to last words. Or will you usurp all my rights?”
She lifts the stack of photographs in her hand and puts them too close to his face, where his eyes cannot focus. “These are your last words.” She flips through the pictures violently. Baltar turns his head away. Her heart is thrumming wildly now, all the hatred and anger that has simmered just below the surface of her skin pours out and flies about the room with the photos as she tosses them.
“It’s over. You had your day in court.” At Laura’s glance, a marine presses his hand to Baltar’s shoulder and shoves him toward the threshold of his cell. He resists. Two other marines grab hold of him and force him into the corridor. He is screaming uncontrollably.
“How could I have known? … She looked human!” His knees buckle and he thrashes in their grip. “The Cylons tortured you! I am not a Cylon!” Desperation raises the pitch of his voice. “I can help you … I can help you find Earth.“
Laura ignores him. There is barely controlled chaos in the hallway yet all she can see are the faces of the dead. They surround her on all sides. They are beautiful faces, bathed in candlelight and surrounded by handwritten poems and prayers. People who loved and were loved in return. All gone. Gone because one man could not resist a beautiful machine, because one man would not stand up for his own people.
The marines push him through the open airlock and force him to his knees. He is shaking, sweating, his words hard to hear through his sobs. Laura steps beside him, a single hand ordering the marines to pause. She leans down until her lips are even with his ear.
“May the Gods have mercy on your soul.”
Baltar’s hand shoots out and grabs her by the hair. Laura hears a chorus of snaps as the marines cock their weapons. The other witnesses gasp. Laura again raises her hand. Wait.
Baltar’s breath is stale and warm when he whispers: “She doesn’t love you. She doesn’t know how … she’s just a machine.”
Laura pulls away from him easily, turns and gestures for the marines to follow her out. She does not look back. The solid thunk of the airlock valve’s shutting is final. Laura does not hesitate; her hand is steady as she pushes the airlock release. The vacuum alarm blares loudly and repeatedly. With each shrill note her anger is slowly replaced with relief. Justice, no matter how cruelly executed, has never felt sweeter.
Baltar’s body is soon barely a speck against the stars.
It’s over. It’s finally over.
Laura stands over the blonde Cylon in the brig. Her left hand taps her folded glasses against the edge of her navy skirt; her right arm settles tightly across her stomach.
“Remove her restraints.” The President gestures to the chains binding Caprica’s wrists. When the marines don’t move right away, Laura turns, her hair a red blur and adds: “Now.”
Laura knows the Cylon is watching her as the marines fumble with her restraints. Wondering. Searching. She knows that she is safe with Caprica. “Leave us.” Her voice drops with the finality of command.
“Ma’am, I don’t think –“
“I didn’t ask for an opinion, Soldier.”
“No, Ma’am.” She listens to their footfalls as they exit the cell. A metallic shriek echoes in her ears long after the marines pull the cell door closed.
“He’s gone then?” Caprica’s voice is hollow.
The Cylon stands suddenly and turns her back on Laura. Caprica reaches out and presses her palm against the reinforced glass that lines her cell and leans her weight against it. She offers no words and it takes two steps for Laura to reach her. Slowly, she sets her hand flat against the skin of Caprica’s back. She applies gentle pressure, nothing more. The Cylon breaks, shuddering under Laura’s hand and she can hear rather than see Caprica’s tears.
“Why did you do it?” Laura asks quietly. “You loved him and yet –“
“One does not question God.” The breath that escapes Caprica resonates with relief.
Laura’s tone is incredulous. “We both know that what you said in that courtroom had nothing to do with God.”
The accusation is met with silence. It lingers before Caprica turns her head to regard Laura over her shoulder.
“How do you live like this? … Knowing such … loss.” The Cylon’s eyes are red rimmed, her lashes moist and dark.
“You grieve, you heal and then … you move on.”
“Have you … moved on?”
Laura takes a long, deep breath and wonders exactly what Caprica is asking. She feels as if a deep gnawing hunger has finally been sated. She knows Adama will think less of her for the joy she has felt today. But he was spared New Caprica. So his opinion matters not. She chooses to answer the simpler question. “Now, I know I can.” She runs the tips of her fingers lightly along the skin of Caprica’s back. “In time, you will too.”
Caprica turns fully, her hand rising to gently cup Laura’s cheek. Tears drip from her lips as she forms the words: “He was not the Chosen One.”
She leans towards Laura and Laura does not step back.