Author’s Email: nnaylime
Summary: You weren’t ready – and when you were, it was too late.
Disclaimer: "Battlestar Galactica," the characters, and situations depicted are the property of Ron Moore, David Eick, SciFi, R&D TV, Sky TV, and USA Cable Entertainment LLC. This piece of fan fiction was created for entertainment not monetary purposes. Previously unrecognized characters and places, and this story, are copyrighted to the author. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author. This site is in no way affiliated with "Battlestar Galactica," SciFi, or any representatives of the actors whose characters are involved.
Author’s Notes: Written for selenay_x as a getyourtoaster pinch hit. I’m not sure this is as dark as you’d have liked, but I did try to get the power-play and mythology vs. logic in there. Huge thanks to pocketwitch for the beta.
They say that as you die, your life flashes before your eyes.* * * * *
They say that there’s a bright light, and the loved ones who preceded you in death are there to greet you on the other side.
They say a lot.
None of it is true.
You saw things—events from your past, but they were distinct and discrete—hardly your whole life.
That you saw Richard is unsurprising; he’d played a major role, for a while.
And that you’d remember the day you received your diagnosis was also unsurprising. That was, after all, a turning point.
And there had been Baltar. That, you can explain as one of those events that had seemed insignificant at the time, but that your subconscious had filed away for later reference. That it would emerge in the weakness and confusion of your body giving up its fight for life, made perfect sense.
So, no, your life did not flash before your eyes, only moments in time.
And there was a light, but all those who’d gone before were not there. Instead there was only one. A single person.
And try as you might, it was not something you could rationalize.
“I’ve gone to hell.” You couldn’t help but say it out loud.
She laughed—the rich throaty alto that you never got to hear the last time you saw her. “You would
“What are you doing here?” you asked, still disbelieving, still confused.
“I’m here to show you the way,” she said. “Lead you to the afterlife.”
She extended her hand, and you took a step back. “I’m not ready.”
“Who is?” she asked. “I wasn’t.”
You twisted your mouth wryly, and she picked up on it immediately. “Yes, Laura. I figured as much. Who were you going to have do the dirty work? Adama?”
“Starbuck,” you said, a reluctant admission.
“Starbuck . . .” She tilted her head a little and pursed her lips at that. “Yes, that would’ve been fitting.”
“I didn’t want to . . .” You felt the need to protest. “But it’s not like you left me any choice.”
“We all make choices,” she said, her face once again an impassive mask.
She’s dead; you’re dying. And you—in that place in between life and death—you must confess, must make amends, fix the things you couldn’t fix while you were alive so they don’t follow you into death.
“I wouldn’t have denied you,” you said. “If you’d said anything about . . .”
She didn’t believe you—raised that single eyebrow to say as much. “Careful, Laura, you’ll show your hand.”
And you raised your own eyebrow in response. And you smiled, nearing a smirk, almost mirroring her own expression. “I’m dying, Helena; what have I got to lose?”
“So you finally admit it,” she said, “you’re dying.” She stretched her hand out and urged, “Come with me; I’m here to help.”
“I’m not ready,” you said again.
She shook her head. “I’ve heard that before.”
“This is different,” you protested, though it felt empty.
“How?” she asked, challenging you. “You admit a truth on one hand, but deny it on the other.”
She looked both sad and angry, and guilt rose in you like a bubble of nausea.
“I wouldn’t have denied you on Galactica
,” you repeated your assertion, clinging to it like a lifetime.
“You’re denying me now!” Her eyes flashed, and you held a protective hand out to take a step backward. As you did so, another memory rose—unexpected, unbidden, uninvited. A memory of her—of you—of that which you swore you wouldn’t deny.* * * * *
You were Secretary of Education. You knew precious little about military matters and even less about military equipment. Still, you and others on the cabinet had been invited to tour the new Battlestar, and it would’ve reflected poorly—both on you, and on the administration—had you not shown up.
You were surprised to find that your host, Admiral Cain, was a young woman. You inwardly berated yourself—you should’ve read the dossier more closely—noticed the first name of ‘Helena’ attached to the last name ‘Cain.’ You regained your composure quickly, and moved to warmly shake her hand. “Admiral.”
“Madame Secretary.” There was a glint of something in her eyes—predatory amusement—you weren’t sure. It set you on edge; you kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. “Have you ever been on a Battlestar before?” she asked, and you suspected she already knew the answer.
“No,” you shook your head. There was nothing to gain from pretending knowledge, and nothing to lose in admitting the lack. She had the upper hand on her own turf, and you were willing to yield it.
She looked at you like you once did hopelessly dense children in your schoolroom. Those that hadn’t done their homework, though they most needed the extra practice it would’ve offered them. “The Pegasus,” you said, “that’s an interesting mythological choice.”
She shook her head. “It was your administration’s choice. The admirals don’t name their own ships.”
“Of course--” You nodded, feeling even more foolish.
“Why don’t we get started on the tour, Admiral?” The defense secretary, Arnold Leicster tried to change the subject and cut through the tension.
She nodded sharply. “Mister Secretary.” Then, pointing to you and a few other cabinet officials said. “You will be with me. Arnie, my XO will show you and the others around.”
Leicster looked slightly miffed at being sent with the lower ranking officer. He didn’t say anything, and you knew he wouldn’t. He needed all the support the military could provide.
You could feel Leicster’s eyes on you as you followed Cain from the meeting room. You briefly wondered what he was thinking. Was he already planning to complain to Richard—accuse you of having embarrassed him, or worse, the administration? Would he, yet again, lodge his tireless complaint and question the need for the ‘soft’ spot of education secretary? A post that was not created until Richard’s first term? A post that he said signaled yet another move away from the Colonies’ war torn past and into a new, progressive future. A post that others whispered had very little to do with your educational prowess. It was a criticism you struggled to ignore, but which haunted you—leaving you determined to prove you were not
what the whispers said.
“This is the Combat Information Center.” The Admiral stopped in front of a glass paneled room. “The dradis consoles provide information on the position of the ship in three dimensions as well as anything around it. This is also the communications hub. The computer technology on this ship will allow us to communicate on any number of frequencies via numerous wireless protocols, both text and voice.”
You could hear the boredom and frustration in her voice. She didn’t want to be doing this. You struggled to come up with insightful questions, or even relevant comments in order to engage the admiral, assuage some of the frustration you could sense in her, but you drew a blank. You were so far out of your element.
Cain’s monologue ran short and she ushered you all half-heartedly into the next room. “This is one of Pegasus’ four hangar decks. Vipers and Raptors take off and land from here. Your own transport landed in the fore hangar deck.”
You started to raise your hand, to ask a question, wondering what the protocol for assigning a hangar deck to a particular vehicle is, but you thought better of it and lowered it, thinking she hadn’t noticed. She had, and raised an eyebrow in response, but didn’t push you.
Only later, at the end of the tour, did she pull you aside. “What were you going to ask—back on the hangar deck. You had a question, what was it?”
She gripped your arm as she asked and met your eyes. It was clear that she really wanted to know.
“I was wondering how you decide which ships go on which hangar deck,” you told her. You looked briefly at the ground, again feeling uncomfortable in this unfamiliar culture. You then looked back up at her, meeting her eyes, determined to set your unease at the military culture and the Admiral’s brusque manner aside and meet her as an equal.
She smiled a little at that, and you could see her eyes scanning your body, taking your measure. You straightened a little, your chin up, silently pushing back as hard as you were being pushed.
“Were you?” she asked. “Intellectual curiosity?”
You nodded and spoke, “Yes.” Breaking eye contact momentarily, you glanced over your shoulder.
She followed your gaze and noted the same thing as you. “They’re looking a little impatient.”
You nodded again, feeling a slight blush color your chest. “They are.”
She reached out to lay a hand lightly but pointedly on your arm. “It looks like the answer to your question will have to wait then.”
Your answer to that surprised you nearly as much as it did her. “We have another tour tomorrow,” you volunteered. “The shipyards. Maybe you could give me the answer over dinner tonight,” you suggested, and covered her hand with your own.
She was silent, and you wondered if perhaps you’d misspoken. “Unless . . .” you continued awkwardly, “you already have plans.”
“No,” she smiled, and again you could feel her eyes on you. “No, Madame Secretary, I’m quite free this evening.”
“I’m staying at the Aquarian Grand,” you told her and hastily pulled a business card from your wallet. “Room 924.” You scrawl the information on the back. “I’ll see you at seven?”
“Nineteen hundred,” she stated in military time, pushing back just a little bit.
“Nineteen hundred,” you repeated with a smile, letting her know you’d concede this one to her. * * * * *
“I would’ve answered your question in an electronic memorandum,” she said, finishing her coffee. “You didn’t have to invite me to dinner.”
You smiled again, and tilted your head. “You didn’t have to accept.”
“I heard Richard Adar created the cabinet position for you.” She stirred coffee, unwilling to meet your eyes as she asked the unspoken question.
“He created the position because he saw a need. I was just chosen to fill it.” You pushed your plate away.
“Are you sleeping with him?” She set her mug down as she moved to be more direct.
You raised your chin, and smiled. “You don’t beat around the bush.”
“Are you?” she asked again.
“Not tonight,” you answered her.
“Is that an invitation?” You were openly sparring now, and you felt flush with the excitement and challenge.
You stood and retrieved your blazer from the back of the chair. “I’m going back to my room,” you said quietly, deliberately, unabashedly. “Where you choose to go is entirely up to you.”
She came with you.
She’d followed you again and again—quietly, the few times that your official visits and the Pegasus’ times at dock coincided—you would meet, only an evening or two, nothing official.
And then she’d shown up at the government offices, unexpected, unbidden, uninvited. Your assistant came in. “There’s an Admiral Cain here to see you. She says she knows you, but she won’t say what she wants.”
You lied. “I have no idea who that is. Tell her I’m in a meeting.” * * * * *
The memory flashed away just as quickly as it had come, and you found yourself once more in sickbay.
The monitor at the head of your bed blipped steadily, an undeniable reminder of who and where you were.
You closed your eyes again, hoping to bring her back, to find her. And there she was, waiting for you instead of following. You smiled softly, and reached toward her. “I’m ready.”
Without warning, you found yourself pulled back—as memories again began flashing—Gaius at the market with the Cylon, Richard Adar upbraiding you for fixing what he’d hoped would remain broken—and then the sharp, searing pain as your body was torn from the lassitude of death into the pain of its continued fight for life. Once more, you weren’t ready.