Title: The Book of Flights
Show: Battlestar Galactica
Spoilers: Through episode 2.12, "Resurrection Ship Part II," aired 1-13-2006.
Summary: "The first thing you did on Pegasus was try to go home."
The Book of Flights
The first thing you did on Pegasus was try to go home. You crawled into the Blackbird and you tried to go home.
It wasn't your fault. You wanted nothing more than to frak up a few Cylons--to grind your wings against a couple Raiders, see the insides of the mystery ship and live to tell about it--but you mouthed off to the CAG and got your ass handed back to you. It wasn't your fault. He was treating you like a nugget and Lee sat slumped next to you, defeatist. So you defended Galactica's honor--told him to fly the Blackbird, the best thing you had to offer, if he really wanted to see something.
After you were kicked off the op, Lee shoved a bag of equipment into your hands and told you to take the Blackbird. Not so defeatist, after all, sometimes.
You told Galactica you needed the Blackbird for a test run.
You lied to your commanders. You broke the rules. You touched the insides of something named Laura. Home.
At Cain's funeral, you are the only member of Galactica to speak.
You look into the crowd for Laura, but all you see is the old man.
In the Blackbird, you turned off your lights--the helmets, the controls, the keyboard. You sat in the dark with your breathing, alone, unafraid. You knew your way around this machine--the way it felt in your hands, the sound of the FTL drive spooling. You had flown it what--two times? Three? Enough to lose count.
You had only been with Laura once, enough not to know her by heart. When you closed your eyes you saw your fingers trailing down her thigh, leaving behind the juice of an orange, you heard the whispers of her breath and poetry. You wondered whether it was real. You wondered whether you had ever said her first name and meant more than this machine.
With your eyes open again, you took your photos of the Cylon mystery ship. Easy.
What were you expecting? To bring the photos back to the old man? To sit in Laura's office with Lee, waving the photos for him to see? To sprawl on your Pegasus bunk and say the CAG could go frak himself, for all you cared? To get sent home to Galactica? You thought nothing would ever change: it was you and the President and the old man forever, because no one else would want you.
But when you came back to the Fleet: chaos. Vipers against Vipers, the Fleet turned against itself. Admit it--you were scared. "We're all friendlies," you said, because you believed it.
You begin to speak about Cain, and your first thought is now you'll never go back to Caprica. Never fight the Cylons out of your homes.
She was going to give that to you, but she is gone, and all you have left is Laura.
She promoted you. You never expected that. She promoted you, and she said she would go to Caprica.
And then you had to kill her. Adama came to you and said he had a mission. "Anything for you, sir," you said. And with an image as bright as the very last orange, with words as perfect as the songs of the hunt, he told you to pull out your weapon and shoot Admiral Cain in the head. And that was how you knew it was not his idea. That was how you knew it was Laura. In the head. How poetic. He would have just told you to kill her. Laura wrote you a frakking lyric. Anything for you, sir.
Cain found you later, curled in your bunk. She shut the door. She pressed you to the wall. You noticed for the first time how long her hair was, how smooth between your fingers. You pushed her bangs back and made her look younger. You touched her temples and imagined shooting her in the head. Your hands found their way between her thighs--she was still in her uniform, you brushed the blue cloth and thought of the skin beneath. She held your face between her palms and praised you. "Maybe tomorrow," she said when you began to unbutton her jacket, and stopped you. All you could feel were your hands in her own.
"Please," you said, not moving. "Please." You were desperate. You couldn't tell her there was no tomorrow.
"All in good time, Starbuck," she said. She slid off your bunk and she kissed you. She promoted you. She kissed you. She promised to take you home. You wanted this so bad, you cried. You went behind the bulkhead and cried.
She knew, Kara--what you wanted and what Laura wouldn't give. She wanted you to work for it.
You know Laura is listening, somewhere. This is being broadcast over the wireless.
"She faced things," you say, of Cain. You would say it of Laura, too, if she would stand here in front of you. "She looked them right in the eye, and she didn't flinch."
In her quarters, drinking, you were careful not to touch. If you touched, you'd see the gun in your hands, the blood running down her face. You drank.
"Promise me," she said, "when that moment comes, you won't flinch. Do not flinch." You couldn't look at her. You couldn't touch. So she made the first move again, taking the glass from your hand and kissing the back of your neck. You stood still, letting her touch you from behind, your legs getting weak. She slipped a hand under your jacket and you leaned forward onto the table, unable to support your own weight. "Careful," she whispered, and you finally turned your head. You could feel her hair fall against your face.
You asked, "Are you going to make me wait again?" You sounded cocky, and you didn't know why, but you liked it. You felt like you again.
She told you to be patient, and she turned you around. You tried not to look. She pressed her face against your shoulder, pulled your hands around her waist. You asked her to kiss you, and she obeyed. It was so unlike her. "Promise me," she said again. "Promise me you will not flinch."
You looked into her eyes. You touched her forehead, the place where you decided you would shoot her. "Anything for you," you said. "Sir."
You remember it clearly. Not like the flashes of orange and poetry, but clearly: her long hair, her face, the way you imagined the bullet. Her name, though you never said it, did you?
You go on with your eulogy: "When I think of what she went through after the attack, all alone--one ship, no help, no hope. She didn't give up, she didn't worry, she didn't second-guess. She acted."
You wondered then, and you wonder now, if she knew what you were supposed to do. I can't tell you that.
What I can tell you is she was tired. You thought of her as better than you, better than the President, but she was human. In her quarters, after you destroyed the Resurrection Ship, after the Blackbird was gone, after nobody shot anybody in the head, she was no better than you, no better, even, than a Cylon. She was tired. Pulling off her jacket, wishing she could sleep. She was human, too.
She had told you to meet her here, in her quarters, she knew you would be expecting your reward. And she was wondering if maybe you would wait, be patient just a little longer, if maybe you would let her sleep a while. She imagined your fingers in her hair.
When the Cylon came into her quarters, she wondered who would find her body, and she knew it would be you. She wanted you to know she didn't flinch.
Those are all the answers you need, Kara.
After the funeral, you go back to your bunk on Pegasus, curl up against the wall.
One thing named Laura is already gone. You will lose the other, too, like you lost Cain--not because of a bullet, or a Cylon, but because her body is just plain dying. No help. No hope. There is very little time, Kara. Tell her what you want.
The first thing you did on Pegasus was try to go home.