Joined: 15 Jul 2006
Location: Soviet of Washington, ex-USA
|Posted: Tue Oct 03, 2006 3:14 am Post subject: “There's something you need to know…”
| “There's something you need to know…”
A Battlestar Galactica story.
“Oh why did I ever have to fall in love with a Warrior?” asked Cassiopeia, her deep sigh ripping through the confined space of the Celestial Dome. She stood, watching the Cylon fighter pull away from the Galactica, Sheba standing next to her, eyes fixed on the same sight.
“I don’t know,” said Sheba, voice tight, fighting to hold back the tears that she dared not show. Like Cassie, she continued to watch, until the departing fighter was lost among the innumerable stars. After a last look across the Colonial Fleet, and the emptiness of space, she sighed again, and moved slowly towards the hatch.
“Sheba,” said Cassie.
Sheba stopped, turning. The other still stood, hands clasped in front of her, on the platform next to the console. She seemed rooted to the spot. Her arms clasped tightly, self-protectively before her. “Yes?” she replied, aware that she had scant centons until she had to be ready to launch, yet somehow she was reluctant to go. Cassie didn’t answer at once, and Sheba took a step back towards her. The look on the med tech’s face sent a sudden wave of concern through Sheba. “Cassie? What is it?”
“There’s…there’s something I need to tell you,” she said, avoiding the Viper pilot’s gaze. “There's something you need to know…” She sighed heavily. “Oh mong!”
“What is it?”
“You were an only child, right?” asked Cassie almost hesitantly, as if feeling her way for a micron.
The question took Sheba aback. She had to shift thrusters for a micron. “I…uh, yes.” She found it difficult to hold the other woman’s gaze as she explained. “After my mother lost her baby, when I was four. It was just me.” She waited a beat, the rumble of the main engines, picking up speed now, vibrating through her boots. Somehow the steady drone gave her strength. “What is this all about?”
“I…we, I mean we’re heading off to a battle. It could be that one or both of us might not survive. Hades, the whole Fleet might…”
“Hey, Starbuck already told me. He doesn’t go on one-way missions, Cassie.” She tried to reassure the other, even though her own doubts weighed heavily on her mind. Hades hole, even Starbuck hadn’t laid odds on this mission. “But that’s not what’s bothering you, is it?” She put a hand on the other’s shoulder. “Please, tell me.”
Cassiopeia sighed, shaking her head and grimacing as if battling internally. “As you know, I met your father a few sectars after your mother died. When he was in a bad way.” She snuck a sidelong look at Sheba, trying to assess the Warrior’s reaction to her words.
“Yes,” replied Sheba, determined not to let old animosities rear their ugly heads. “I know. When he was on furlon, the sectar I first shipped out. He was.....drinking in some bar, drowning his sorrows, and then......there you were." She frowned slightly, "Cassie, didn't we already clear the air about all this on the Gamoray mission?"
"Not entirely," Cassiopeia took a breath. "And since.....one or both of us may not be alive a few centars from now, I need to tell you allof this. No one but you deserves to know this.” She took another deep breath, turning to consider the starscape, the Cylon Raider now far from sight.. “I spent a lot of time with your father. At first, it was just sex, I admit. Eventually, it became more than... just him and me.” A faint smile touched her lips. “We fell in love.”
“I…I know,” sighed Sheba, her mind flashing back to those days. She had been so resentful. Hateful, even. So adamant that she should be the one offering comfort to her father. Instead, Cain had found it in the arms of a…socialator. And resentful of the thought in her mind that her father was trying to suppress all memories of her mother, believing wrongly, as she knew now, that Cassiopeia had been the one encouraging that. Now, she knew that Cain's devotion to her mother had in fact been the one thing that had kept her father from reaching out to her, since Sheba resembled her mother so much. Cassiopeia had long since told Sheba that she hadn't wanted Cain to bury all reminders of Sheba's mother, and she'd believed the ex-socialator. Since they'd cleared the air about that, it left Sheba puzzled as to what Cassiopeia could be talking about now that she needed to open up about.
“I was so happy.” Cassie continued to gaze at the stars as if somehow she could recapture those distant moments of happiness. “I thought I had found someone at last. Then…” she stopped, a renegade tear spilling down her cheek, which she quickly wiped away. “Then, he shipped out … and the Fifth Fleet was lost, and I…” She sucked in a deep breath, her arms wrapped tightly around her, blinking back the tears and trying to keep the memories at bay as she confessed to Cain’s daughter ….
“You what?” asked Sheba, almost afraid of the answer. She had finally resigned herself to the fact that her father had had a deep, caring relationship with Cassiopeia, and that the woman was actually worthy of his affections, but this stark emotional display was almost too much…it made it too real. Somehow Cain’s disappearance had put the entire relationship in another perspective, as if it was an historical event that she had to accept, and come to terms with. But to actually feel the emotions rolling off her father’s former lover …it was almost too much to bear. Especially now, when she was feeling so emotionally exposed already from her confession to Apollo.
“I was so…devastated by losing Cain…even I wasn’t prepared for it.” Cassiopeia sniffed as if deeming her emotional dependence on the Juggernaut a complete surprise…and perhaps a weakness. “It was like losing a part of myself. It seemed as if the whole purpose of life was gone.” Cassie took a step away, putting some distance between them. Her eyes closed tightly as memories flitted through her mind. “ I…I tried to kill myself, Sheba.” She turned, and they looked at each other a few moments, then Cassie turned away. “I got drunk, took some pills, then slit my wrists for good measure.” A bitter, self-condemning laugh followed. “It was sheer stupid luck that anyone found me. I almost died anyway.”
Sheba stared blankly at her for a moment, searching for adequate words, before finally muttering, “I had no idea, Cassie. I knew how he felt about you. He even mentioned the possibility of sealing with you. His letters…” She still recalled the occasion she had intruded on her father’s privacy on the Pegasus, only to find him staring forlornly at Cassiopeia’s image.
“What his letters didn’t tell you, Sheba,” Cassie’s voice suddenly vehement, “what he couldn’t tell you because he didn’t know himself, was that I…I was pregnant. I was carrying his baby.” She turned to look Sheba directly in the eye. For an instant, Sheba looked as if she’d been hit by a bolt from Heaven. She was still. She didn’t even blink. Even the rumble of the thrusters seemed to fade into the background.
“I…” Sheba managed to get out, brows crumpling, shaking her head in denial.
“And I lost her. I lost her because of my stupidity, and my…my…selfishness and self-pity…” She couldn’t finish, her voice choking off as she drew a gasping breath while she tried to hold in wracking sobs that she had never allowed herself the luxury of letting loose at the time. She pounded a fist on the railing. “Damn, I promised myself I wouldn't get like this!" She took a deep breath. "I killed my…I killed Cain’s…our baby…”
A hundred emotions and impulses raced through Sheba, as her eyes got as big as BaseShips, her old ire foremost among them. Yet what she did surprised even herself. Without pause, she took a step forward and embraced Cassie. She could feel the pent up tension within the woman that she now considered a friend, and then with a shudder, the tides of Cassiopeia’s emotions broke loose. Sheba held her, letting the cascade of guilt and self-loathing run its course. It seemed like centars they stood there, two women linked by circumstance, affections, and now by blood. Or blood spilt. As she held the other, Sheba was again surprised by the depth of her counterpart. Someone she had always seen as an interloper, a home wrecker, a …a slut, had not only shown herself to be as brave as any Warrior, but also as wounded and as penitent as any piece of gutter trash in a skid row mission. She found herself admiring, respecting Cassiopeia even more, even as the other’s flood of agony continued.
“Please…” Cassie sobbed out, almost unable to speak clearly. “Forgive me, Sheba.” She raised red puffy eyes to the other. “I’m so…”
“Shh…” said Sheba, hugging the other closer to her. “There’s nothing to forgive.” she said, louder. “If anyone should have to apologize, it’s me. For not really understanding how much you loved my father.” The two sunk to the floor, crouched on the edge of the steps, and held each other for what seemed like an age. A hundred things swept through Sheba’s mind, like a Viper speeding past at full turbo. Of all the things this day might have brought, and still might bring yet, this had not been on her list of most expected ways to spend the moments before the big battle. Then again, as far as confessions went, it really took the mushie.
“P...please,” said Cassie, looking up as the storm began to abate, “don’t tell anyone. Don’t tell Starbuck… I’m not sure he would understand.”
“Never.” She put her fingers to Cassie’s lips. “It’ll be our secret, Cassie.” She climbed to her feet, pulling Cassie up beside her, just as the intercom sounded. Colonel Tigh’s voice rang out;
All pilots, final briefing in ten centons. Repeat, all pilots, final briefing in ten centons.
The two tidied up, casting sheepish looks at one another. Cassie then moved, reaching for the hatch, before looking back up.
“Thanks, Sheba.” She shook her head slightly in bemusement. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have dropped this on you before a mission.” She ran a hand over her face in dismay. “Lords, I did it with Starbuck too. Instead of being supportive, I feel this irrational need to resolve any… outstanding issues.” She shook her head ruefully. “My timing couldn’t be worse. The story of my life, I suppose.” She smiled, though the lightness of her words didn’t quite reach her eyes. “All the same, you have no idea how much better…”
“I’m glad you told me.” Sheba replied. “I suppose I never really knew how you felt about my father. There was a part of me that always thought he was just another client. Now I know he was so much more.” She laid her hand on Cassie’s. “Thank you.”
“For what?” Cassie asked.
“I suppose that my biggest fear after my mother’s death, was that my father would have nothing left to live for. What can take the place of twenty-five yahrens of devotion?” Cassiopeia shook her head mutely.
“I guess I hoped I could help in some small way, but I was wrong. Father retreated further into himself, his ambrosia bottle becoming his salvation …until he met you. You changed that. You gave him hope and promise once again. If I had only understood then that it was your love that saved him.”
Cassie’s eyes filled with tears once again. “But I didn’t save him. Did I?”
“From himself. Perhaps if there had been someone there for you, as you were for him…” she trailed off, shrugging mutely, reaching for the hatch, precious centons passing by.
“Thank you.” Cassie whispered quietly.
Sheba turned, reaching out and squeezing the med tech’s hand. She smiled gently. “That’s what friends...what family, are for.”
With acknowledgements to Lisa and Eric for all their help.
"The dull mind rises to Truth through that which is material." -Suger
Et verbum caro factum est, et habitavit in nobis: et vidimus gloriam ejus, gloriam quasi Unigenti a Patre, plenam gratiae et veritas.