Joined: 12 Jul 2006
|Posted: Fri Aug 25, 2006 7:42 am Post subject: "Distant Memories"-Pt. 4
|True to his word, Cain took her to the triad match the next day. And then he went back and saw her perform in the play again. That was followed in the next sectan by four more dinner dates, another triad match, and two more viewings of the play.
On none of those dates, did Cain or Bethany make any kind of move aimed at seduction of the other. They both seemed to sense that they had something special enough just by being together, and spending long centars conversing and talking with each other. That carrying it too far would cheapen the entire experience they'd been sharing up to that point.
As if they wanted to emphasize that silent understanding between them, every one of their dates always ended with no more than a quick hug or a light kiss on the cheek.
Another two sectans went by. By then, Sire Uri had finally chosen to cut his financial losses and close the play. On the day after the last performance, Cain took Bethany to show her the Colonial Military Academy. The large cluster of buildings that housed classrooms, dormitory complexes, and athletic and training centers were all done in a quaint, old-style architecture that blended in perfectly with the rustic surroundings. The Academy itself was located well outside the Caprica City municipal limits in a lush green valley lined with trees that was totally devoid of any other residential and commercial development.
"It's so peaceful here," Bethany commented as Cain led her around the main Parade Grounds, pointing out the various buildings that dotted the landscape.
"We're very fortunate the Academy's in recess and all the cadets are away for a sectan."
"That's not what I meant," she said, "I meant this whole location. So removed from all the activity of Caprica City."
"They did that deliberately when they chose this site, four hundred yahrens ago," Cain stated, "The old Academy was located two blocks from the Presidium and District Headquarters, because they thought it was more expedient to keep them centrally located. Unfortunately, as Caprica City became more developed, they soon realized that not only were the facilities becoming rapidly inadequate, but all the cadets were having too much easy access to a lot of distractions in the city. Not a good situation when the war was entering a new, more difficult phase."
"So they moved out to the country, and kept the cadets isolated," Bethany noted, "Smart thinking. Get them away from the pollution, the noise and all the temptations of the big city, and stay focused on learning how to kill Cylons."
"Definitely," Cain nodded, "Being here forces you to concentrate on the responsibilities a warrior has. It makes you more aware of the terrible job that has to be done protecting our people before you go out and do it."
Bethany stopped walking and looked at him with a bemused expression, "I really didn't expect you to use a word like that."
"'Terrible'," she said, "I thought you loved combat flying, and combat tactics."
"I do," Cain responded, "That doesn't mean I love the war. At least, I hope it doesn't mean that. I just take pride in the fact that I'm probably the best person there is when it comes to getting the terrible jobs done."
She continued to look him over thoughtfully, "What if there wasn't a war, Cain? Then what would you do with your life?"
"No war?" he seemed amused by the question, "That's a concept that seems alien to just about anyone. It's been a thousand yahrens since anyone knew what it was like for our civilization to be at peace. I can't say I've ever pondered that question."
"Try pondering it now," Bethany prodded, "I'm curious. If the war were to end tomorrow, then what would you do with your life?"
Cain shrugged, "Probably stay in the Service."
"Doing what? The kind of work someone like that Colonel Hengist does now? You wouldn't last half-a-micron in something like that."
"I don't think if the war were ever won, that it would mean we'd lower our defenses for eternity," he said as they resumed walking along the Parade Grounds, "I'm not a Utopian thinker, Bethany. If the Cylon Empire fell, there'd probably be another new enemy to take its place someday, and we'd have to be prepared to face that enemy."
"You wouldn't last in that kind of a military either, Cain," Bethany didn't let up, "I think I know you well-enough by now to realize that it isn't just your knowledge of combat tactics that you take pride in. It's the thrill you get from the success of a combat mission. The constant activity of battle. Heading a viper squadron or commanding a battlestar in a peacetime military would be no different than having a job like Hengist's to you."
Cain stopped walking and looked at her again, "Maybe you've got a point, Bethany," he said, "Maybe I don't know what I'd do with my life if there was no more war. But then again, do you know what you'd do, if you couldn't act on a stage anymore? I've seen the way you throw yourself into a part, and it's with the same passion that I admit I feel in a combat situation. Not because I'm bloodthirsty, or insensitive to the human tragedy of people dying in this war, but because this is the thing I excel at better than anything else I'm capable of doing."
"I understand," Bethany said gently, "Believe me, I do."
"There's one part of your question, I can answer though," Cain seemed to be gathering his inner strength for what he was about to say next, "I may not know what I'd do from a professional standpoint, but I know what I'd do with my spare time. And that's spend more of it with the people I love."
Her expression didn't change as she looked at him in silence for several microns. When she finally spoke, her words were cautious and carefully measured.
"Who are the people you love?"
Cain looked her in the eye, "Right now there's only one person who fits into that category," he said, "That's you, Bethany. I love you."
Bethany tried to keep the waves of emotion she was feeling go through her in check, "Can you tell me why you love me, Cain?" her voice was still level, "It's not that I don't appreciate what you say, but...."
"But because of my past reputation with other women?" Cain finished the thought for her, "Is that it?"
"Cain, it's not that I don't trust you," she tried to sound reassuring, hoping desperately that she wouldn't say something she'd later regret, "It's just that I have to hear you tell me in your own words, why you feel this way about me. I......" she took a breath, "I need to hear you open up with all the details, Cain."
He let out a light chuckle and gazed skyward as if he were looking for help from the Almighty, "Why," he said aloud, "Why do I love you. Well, that's a good question."
"I have to know, Cain," her voice was gentle, but no less emphatic, "Tell me, and then I'll be glad to tell you something as well."
Cain forced himself to look at her, trying not to shuffle his feet or make any other kind of awkward gesture.
"Bethany," he finally spoke in the most firm tone he could manage, "I love you because you're not like any other woman I've known, and because you have a mind that works just like mine in a lot of ways. You're the only woman I've ever met that I can envision having a meaningful relationship with because I feel totally comfortable thinking of you as an equal."
As soon as he had finished, Bethany put her arms around him and for the first time kissed him on the lips.
"Thank you for saying that," her tone was contented, "That you think of me as an equal. Hearing you admit that vindicates everything I've been thinking about you."
"What have you been thinking?" he asked as he refused to let go of her.
She smiled brightly, "That there was more to you than just the man everyone read about in Soldier's Review. That underneath all that egocentric braggadocio, you have a loving, sensitive side too."
"Only when I'm with you," he smiled back, "Only with you."
"That's all that matters to me," Bethany said, "Because that part of you is what I'm in love with, Cain. And it's the only side that I want to see when you're with me. Be the other Cain when you're flying your vipers and blasting the Cylons to infinity, as long as you never keep this other side of you hidden from me."
"I won't," he said, "I swear by all the Lords of Kobol I won't. You're the only woman I've ever felt comfortable with this way, and I don't ever want to lose you."
"You never will," Bethany let out another contented sigh as she rested her head on his shoulder, "You never will."....
........You never will......you never will.
The ghostly echo of her words reasonated through Cain's head as he made the final adjustment to his uniform, and then cast another glance back at the Hologram projector where he had seen her image only centons ago.
"But I did lose you," he whispered aloud. "I lost you without getting a chance to say goodbye, and to......" he took a breath, "To ask you to forgive me for all the things I didn't do for you."
He sat down in his chair again and rubbed his temples. He was past his revised deadline for reporting to the Pegasus' bridge, but he didn't care. His mind was still filled with the distant memories of the past. The happiness they'd brought him......and the guilt they now evoked.
........ "It's so good to see you both!" Ila exclaimed happily as she saw a beaming Cain and Bethany standing in the entryway of the apartment. "Come in and sit down."
"Actually, we don't have time to come in," Bethany's expression and tone were coy. "We stopped by because we wanted to ask you and Adama to come with us."
"Come with you?" her childhood friend lifted an eyebrow. "To where?"
"To the District Justice Center," Cain said, trying to keep himself contained. "We....need two witnesses."
Ila's mouth fell open, "Good Lords of Kobol, you don't mean to tell me that you two----," she trailed off, unable to say it.
"Yes," Bethany beamed proudly as she wrapped an arm around Cain's midsection "We're getting married and that means the rest of Cain's furlon can be our honeymoon."
"I don't believe it!" Ila shook her head, "Let me get Adama!"
As she disappeared inside the apartment, Cain and Bethany gazed at each other and shared another quick kiss.
"The sealing license may cost us fifty cubits," Bethany said, "But the reaction on her face was priceless."
"There are some things money can't buy," Cain chuckled as he kissed her again and glanced inside, "I only hope Adama isn't annoyed by the fact that our sealing ceremony will be totally civil in nature, with none of the usual religious trappings."
"Fairly devout man?" she asked.
Bethany sighed, "I don't like to call myself a Skeptic, because I can't buy the idea that the universe is all based on random chance, but.....I've never felt comfortable with all the trappings of traditional religion. I envy those who can have a deep, secure faith, but.....I don't think I could ever be like that."
"Likewise," Cain sighed. "No warrior can ever be a total Skeptic, but.....I think you're right, there's too much about all the ceremony of formal religion that just strikes me as a waste. Especially sealing ceremonies."
A half-centon later, a still incredulous Ila had emerged with Adama in tow. The black-haired lieutenant's expression was considerably milder than his wife's.
"Congratulations," he smiled and embraced his friend. "I had a feeling this was going to happen, the micron you said you were going out with each other."
"Spoken like a true tactician," Cain returned it. "We've got an airtaxi waiting outside. There isn't a micron to waste!"
And so, the four of them had ridden to downtown Caprica City, where Cain and Bethany were married in a brief civil ceremony that lasted all but five centons.
The two of them then spent the next four sectars together, and Cain knew that he'd never have another complaint about the length of rotation furlons again.......
......What a happy time, Cain wistfully thought as the cold reality of the present came back to him. When everything was so innocent and new for us. Before all the....complications.
From that point on, throughout their thirty-three yahrens of marriage, Cain found himself only able to spend the total equivalent of one-third of that time with Bethany. And while he had always been true to his word and showed only the side of himself that Bethany had fallen in love with, when they were together, there had never been any escaping the burden Bethany had to carry with being the wife of the most renowned warrior in the Colonies. And with it, all the times that Cain hadn't been able to be there for her.
At that instant, he could now remember word-for-word all of the important events in her life that he had found out about only through the form of a distant holotape message relayed to him when he'd been far out in deep space, on some kind of assignment with the Pegasus.
"You won't believe it! The Colony Award for best actress of the yahren! I won!"
"Dr. Craigmar told me the good news this morning. I'm pregnant!"
"We have a beautiful, baby daughter, Cain. She has your eyes and she's a feisty little one!"
"You were wishing me luck again, Cain, and it paid off. I am now the first woman in the history of the Caprican National Theater to win four Colony Awards."
"Sheba's been accepted to the Academy with full scholarship honors."
The greatest triumphs of his wife's life, and not once had he been able to share the immediate joy with her. Always learning of it after the fact.
Why shouldn't it have been surprising then, that it was via a hologram message, not from Bethany, but from a very distraught Sheba, that first gave him the news.
"Daddy, you have to get home as fast as you can! Mom, she's......she's dying, Daddy. Something called Gamma Syndrome. I.....Lords of Kobol, Daddy, she's only got at most a few sectans to live, and she's losing her grip on reality. She needs you there, Daddy. I know you're so far away, but please, please by all the Lords get home as fast as you can!"
He had dropped everything, and frantically put into a liberty port where he'd left his battlestar behind and taken a series of fast transport vehicles to get back to the Colonies as was humanly possible. He had been so distraught by the news that he had considered using the Pegasus herself to get back, but for all his unorthodox ways, even he knew what kind of penalties he could suffer for taking a battlestar out of action for a personal reason. And so, he had tried to get back, hoping he'd be there before the end would come......only to arrive in the Caprica City hospital where Sheba had been waiting for him, and to tell him that he'd been too late. That Bethany, suffering from a debilitating brain disease that had been causing progressive memory loss at first, and then a state of feverish delirium, had died only sixteen centars before. Just long enough for her to be removed from her hospital bed. Her last words, in her feverish state of incoherence, a pleading cry for her husband, calling his name over and over again.
But he'd been too late. Too late to just see her one last time and hold her hand, and give her some reassuraning words of love. Too late to tell her how sorry he was for all the things he'd missed out on in the many yahrens of their marriage. Too late to let her know how sorry he'd been for not realizing the anguish she'd gone through in the latter yahrens, when his absences grew more frequent, and she had to start dealing with the reality of Sheba growing up and choosing his path of becoming a warrior as well. A decision that Bethany had never once expressed a critical word about, but one that he now realized had left her troubled inside, because it would only add to her growing sense of loneliness.
It was only after she was gone, that he could look back and realize there were so many signs he'd missed that had signaled her inner anguish. The sad, downcast quality of her eyes. The way she'd hold him so tightly whenever they'd first meet or say goodbye to each other during a furlon, as though she never wanted to let go of him again.
He had to admit that he'd kept his word to Bethany in that while he was home, he'd been exactly the kind of man she wanted him to be. The loving, sensitive husband and father who put the Juggernaut aside for those occasions of family and togetherness. But now, he realized that his problem had been that he'd compartmentalized himself too much, and had not let enough of that other side of him, the one Bethany had loved, stay within him during the separations, which might have made him more sensitive to his wife's plight. True, he'd always been faithful to her, and had never once fallen prey to any temptations that had crossed his path, but only too late did he realize that there were other areas where he hadn't honored her properly. And for those reasons, his guilt would seemingly never go away.
Damn, he sighed with a heavy heart as he checked his chronometer and realized he was late by nearly forty centons to the Bridge. If he didn't get there soon, Tolen might well send Security up to see if he'd suffered some kind of physical collapse.
"Forgive me, Bethany," he said aloud. "Forgive me."
He started and made his way to the door, and then abruptly stopped in his tracks, for seemingly no reason. This time, his face was a study of concentration, as if he were somehow listening to someone even though there was no one in the room, and no voice he could hear.
But there was in fact a presence in the room at that instant. A totally unseen presence that had stood before him the entire time and had heard everything he'd said aloud and studied all of his thoughts. If Cain had been able to see the presence, he would have seen a figure garbed entirely in white and with an expression of pure love and tenderness.
"Oh Cain," she sighed, "How I wish I could appear directly to you and let you know it's all right. But that's not allowed of any of us. All we can be is an unseen presence, standing beside you in these lonely centons, and hoping that what we can say to you will penetrate the unconscious mind. For so long, I've waited for the right time to do this, and now, that time has come."
She then drew close to him, reaching out, as if to touch him, even though it was something her ethereal form wasn't capable of doing.
"Don't let guilt destroy you any more," her words were both tender and forceful at the same time. "From where I am now, I can only look back and see how blest I was in life to have you for my husband. And how having you for only a third of the time we were married was more meaningful to me than if I'd had someone else who was never a warrior, and had always been home."
She drew closer to him, "You have so many challenges and opportunities left ahead of you in your life, Cain. And you can't let any part of the past distract you from facing those challenges, and that includes your guilt over my death and the pain you feel over being separated from Sheba. So right now, I'm hear to tell you that you don't need forgiveness from me, because there isn't anything about the life I had with you that I'd ever change. We were blest by the Lords to be brought together, and that's all that matters."
She then paused for an instant, as Cain remained locked in his position. "And as for Sheba.....I wish I could tell you whether or not you'll see her again, which I know you long for more than anything else, but the future is not for me to let you know about. All I can tell you is that.....she's doing fine right now, in her new life aboard the Galactica. I can't ever tell you anything specific, but.....please for her sake, put your mind at ease about her, and just stay focused on the things you need to do right here and now."
For the first time, Cain's bearing seemed to recover some of its old poise. There was a smile from the unseen presence and then she said what for her, would be her final words on this occasion.
"Goodbye, Cain. My love will always be with you. Both here, and in the life beyond."
And at that instant, her presence faded from the room. Had Cain turned around at that instant and looked out the porthole he would have seen several flashes of brilliant white light darting across the stars.
But instead, the Juggernaut's attention was directed forward, and with it, the realization that he'd been wasting valuable time. Along with a realization that all the terrible feelings of guilt and regret that had been filling his heart and soul, had suddenly for some inexplicable reason, lifted completely. As if dissipated like a sun destroying the early morning mist.
With that sudden renewed strength filling him, he turned back and saw the digital chronometer on his desk again, and this time found himself smiling.
"Happy Anniversary, Bethany," he said without any trace of guilt, and only joy for all that he'd shared with her.
And then he stepped out into the corridor, and with the old spring in his step back, the Juggernaut prepared to face another new challenge for the day.
(Author's Note. The main body of this story previously appeared under the title "Battlestar Galactica: Homeward Bound", with a wraparound prologue and epilogue that was meant as a sequel to the story "Battlestar Galactica: The Mark Of Cain". Since I am no longer writing stories set in that particular universe, and wanted the main story detailing how Commander Cain met the woman who would be Sheba's mother to remain true in all other fanfic universes I have written, I am presenting the story with a different prologue/epilogue that can generically fit into all of these separate fanfic universes)