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 Post subject: Parental Guidance, by threemeows, Hera, Helo/Athena, PG
PostPosted: Mon May 11, 2009 12:52 pm 
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Joined: Mon Apr 20, 2009 5:34 pm
Posts: 13
Title: Parental Guidance
Author: threemeows
Characters: Mostly Hera, with appearances by her mom and dad and various others
A/N: This came to me, and I'm not entirely sure how it happened. Hera's about 11-12 in this. The story is complete, but I had to put it in different posts because it's 8017 words. If you prefer to it in two parts, the story is at my livejournal, part 1 - http://threemeows.livejournal.com/3385.html#cutid1 and part 2 - http://threemeows.livejournal.com/3636.html#cutid1 . Also, I'm not entirely sure that this story should be in this section, since it's mostly Hera. Please move it if need be! :)

It’s not until she’s spotted the same boulder for the fourth time that Hera has to admit it.

She’s lost.

“Frak,” she mutters, sitting down on the rock and wiping at her upper lip with the back of her hand. She throws her leather satchel on the ground by her feet, frustrated, and collapses forward, her elbows on her knees, head in her hands. “Frak.”

Mom and Dad are gonna kill me.

She just managed to convince them that gathering firewood by herself would be a piece of cake. Did she really have to go with the other kids? She knew the forest well enough. She’d stay close to the edge. She’d be back by dinner.

Fine, fine, get outta here, Dad exclaimed, frustrated, shooing her out under the leather flap of their door. But you’re back before lunch, got it? Not dinner, lunch.

Yay! Daddy! She threw herself at him and kissed his cheek a few times. Then she practically skipped away.

You! Wait just right there. Mom followed her out and handed her the spare handgun. There’s only three bullets. Remember what we taught you. Don’t –

- Fire until you’re sure you can stop it dead, Hera said, finishing with her. She rolled her eyes. You’re such a worrywart.

Mom rolled her eyes back – behind her, Dad did too. Every time you say that, I have to remind myself that you were too young to remember, and be grateful for that, she replied softly, the same sort of soft sadness that always filled her eyes whenever she said those words coming up again. Hera always wondered what she meant – why she would look like that. Once, when she was younger, and Mom was out hunting, she asked Dad. But then he had gotten moody too, and wouldn’t say. Now, though, Hera didn’t care.

Cheer up, Mom. She jogged down their makeshift path, waving her hand. Bye Mom! Dad!

Lunch! Dad yelled after her.

Hera hikes her hide skirt up, past the knee, to the thigh holster. She’s glad now Mom insisted.

She sits there for a few minutes, chewing on a thumbnail. She’s never been lost out here before. She’s never been lost, ever. As far as she can remember.

Except . . . she frowns. Except the feeling of being lost. That, she remembers.

Δ

Do you remember living on the star?

Nicky looked up from his book. They were sitting on the grass of the main square. The younger kids were playing tag – the older ones pyramid.

A little, he said. Why?

Hera shrugged. My parents don’t like to talk about it, she said, nodding towards them. They were bartering with Kai, the potter. Mom was one of the better hunters in the settlement, which meant that the Agathons could use her catches to get a lot of odds and ends. This time it was more plates – the shelf in their cabin had collapsed finally, cracking some of their dinnerware.

Neither does Dad. Nicky returned to his book. None of the pilots do.

Do you know why?

Nicky flipped a page. Nope. Never asked.

Hera rested on her stomach, her chin on her folded hands. Do you know his callsign?

Hot Dog.

Hera sat up, making a face. What kind of callsign is that? I mean, what is a ‘hot dog’?

Nicky put down his book on his chest. Don’t be a jerk, he snapped, angrily. What were your parents' callsigns?

Hera blinked. I . . . uh, I don’t know.

Hera? Dad was standing in front of them now. Hey, troublemaker. Time to head back. Quit talking to your crush and let’s get going.

Dad! Hera exclaimed, mortified. She snuck a glance at Nicky, who she was gratified to see looked equally embarrassed – he ears was turning pink. Why do you have to be such a dork? She scampered to his feet and grabbed his hand, hauling him away as quickly as possible.

Easy, he said, messing up her hair. You think I’d give a Costanza any chance at my little girl?

Daaaaad.

Hera trudged behind her parents during the walk back to the cabin. She’d always known that her parents had served, though they had never outright said. She figured it out herself a few years ago. Mom and Dad had some pieces of clothing that looked exactly alike – long gone now, worn to shreds over the years, but she knew they had them at one point. And the boots – Mom had once owned a pair, until the soles could no longer be mended. But Dad still had his. He no longer wore them – only when there was heavy-duty work to be done.

And, of course, there were the guns.


Last edited by threemeows on Mon May 11, 2009 1:15 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Parental Guidance, by threemeows, Hera, Helo/Athena, PG
PostPosted: Mon May 11, 2009 12:55 pm 
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Joined: Mon Apr 20, 2009 5:34 pm
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Δ

What to do now?

Hera looks through the foliage. The sun is high in the sky – so she can’t tell which way is east, south, west, north. She entered the forest north. So she needs to head south. She thinks.

She doesn’t know.

Think, dammit.

Dad was lost, once. He told her the story before – about how he was running through the forest, in the rain. Bad guys were chasing me, he explained, when she asked.

Did you get the bad guys?

No, he chuckled. They got me.

No bad guys chasing her now, which is a plus. Then she remembers what both her parents taught her – to stay put.

They’ll come after me. Hell, if I’m two minutes late Dad’ll round up all the settlers and Mom’ll bring the guns. The really big ones.

That’s if they find you.

Frak.

Δ

Mom examined the head of lettuce before plucking it out of the ground. Don’t you love fresh salad? she twittered, handing it over to Hera, who placed it in the reed basket by her feet.

Mm-hmm.

Hopefully, Dad’ll get catch a fish or two for tonight. I’m kinda sick of eating venison, aren’t you?

Mm-hmm.

Carrots’ll be nice, too, right?

Mm-hmm.

Okay, what’s wrong. Mom sat back into the dirt, resting her elbows against her knees. She took of her reed hat and fanned herself. You’ve been like this for days.

How come you two never talk about being pilots? Even Hera was startled how quickly that came out.

Mom paused, very slightly, before putting her hat back on her head. Of course we do, she said, carefully.

Not really.

We weren’t Viper pilots. Dad was an ECO. I was a Raptor pilot.

Hera studied the contents of their garden basket. After a while, she said, But how come you never really talk about it?

Mom didn’t respond for a long time. Finally, she replied, It was a lifetime ago, baby. Water under the bridge. There were some bad times back then.

But . . . You guys were heroes. You brought us here.

Mom laughed, but her eyes didn’t sparkle like it did when Dad teased her, or when she kissed her daughter goodnight. We didn’t bring us here, honey. Come on. I see Dad.

Δ

They ran out of matches years ago.

Hera takes the twigs and leans then together standing up around the kindling, so that they form a cone. That’s the easy part – she didn’t bring flintstones with her. She scours the area for a while, moving in ever-growing circles around her designated campsite, until she finally finds a small pair. She’s used to building fires at the hearth in home, but when they first came here, they had to do it outdoors, sometimes even in the rain. It takes a while to get the spark to catch in the kindling, and even then she has to try and retry because it won’t take when she feeds the jumping embers with bigger sticks of wood. She gets on her knees and blows a little, feeding it necessary air.

By the time Hera gets the fire going, the sun has gone down a little. Her stomach is rumbling and she’s angry at herself for not packing some salted meat for the trip – but then again, it wasn’t as if she was expecting to get lost. She wonders what’s on for lunch at home and nearly cries again but then clamps down on it quickly. Agathons don’t cry. Mom never has – neither has Dad. She’s not about to break the family tradition.

She settles against the rock and realizes that’s not true, either. She’s seen both of her parents cry before. In a room, crowded with bodies. Dad on a bed, with white, pristine sheets; his head was bandaged. Or was it his thigh? Mom in tears at the sight of him. Dad, too, when he finally woke up and cuddled her close, murmuring. Thank the gods we got you back.


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 Post subject: Re: Parental Guidance, by threemeows, Hera, Helo/Athena, PG
PostPosted: Mon May 11, 2009 1:01 pm 
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Joined: Mon Apr 20, 2009 5:34 pm
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Δ

I ran into Renata, Dad said as he helped himself to some tomatoes.

By the stream?

Yeah. Just came back from the ocean.

Mom lifted her eyebrows. Wow. They actually made it.

He said it’s gorgeous. Maybe we should try going there ourselves sometime. He winks at Hera. Family vacation?

Hera tries to smile at him, but she’s not in the mood. Mom’s answering laugh is more genuine. That sounds nice. They eat in silence for a while, Mom fiddling with her wooden fork. How’s Lida?

Dad paused chewing for a second. He swallowed. She’s good. He cut into his fish then said, carefully, She’s not pregnant though.

A Cylon, then.

Mom nodded. But there was a decided sag to her shoulders, as if the news knocked a bit of breath from her. Like every time it turned out one of the Cylons didn’t conceive. Antonia had given birth prematurely a couple of years ago, but the little boy had died in a few days. Besides Timothy and Antonia, Mom had probably been the most affected.

Hera knew before, Mom didn’t like Cylons. She didn’t like being a Cylon – to be reminded by everybody that she was different, and that she was to be feared. For a time, after they came to this planet, Mom still clung to her own fears. After a while, though, Mom had mellowed – she and Caprica, who always had an open chair at their dinner table, became the example to which the other Cylons who lived nearby strived to emulate. When Antonia got pregnant, Mom was there to visit every so often, to lend an ear and to tell her what to expect.

Hera guessed her sadness was because Mom felt sympathetic towards them. And that Mom and Dad wanted another a baby, perhaps a little brother for Hera – and that since none of the other Cylon/human couples were having success, their chances were looking bleak.

At least there’s Liang, Dad said, lightly. Jenna’s healthy. Howard Kim said she’s almost to term.

Mom just nodded absently.

They ate in silence. Finally, Hera couldn’t stand it anymore. Daddy?

Yeah, sweetie?

How come you and Mom never talk about being pilots?

Dad nearly choked on his water. Mom’s head shot up and she glared at her daughter. Dad put his cup down and said, very measured, Well, it was a very long time ago.

That’s what Mom said.

Mom’s right, Dad replied, glancing at her. Mom was studiously ignoring them both, pushing her tomatoes around her plate. But it’s in the past. That’s why we didn’t say. It’s not important now.

But you guys got us here. You guys flew with Starbuck and Apollo. You served under the Admiral!

Mom laughed a little at that. If Kara could hear you now, Dad said, shaking his head ruefully.

Hera stilled, unsure how to pursue. She knew Dad had been very good friends with Starbuck – he talked about her, and her heroics, often. Just not about them, as friends. Didn’t Dad do heroic things? Didn’t Mom? I just . . . I don’t understand why you’re not more . . . proud of it.

Mom looked stricken. We are proud. Don’t mistake that.

Dad said, Here, let me show you something. He stood up and went into the room he shared with Mom. He came back with a little wooden box. Sitting down, he opened it and took out the things inside, placing them gently, reverently, on the table in front of her.

Dog tags. Pins. Hera had seen these items before, on other settlers who had served. Some of them couldn’t kick the habit of wearing them, even if there were no longer uniform blues to put them on, just deerhide now.

But these were her parents’. These were a part of her.

Hera picked up both sets of tags. They glimmered in the firelight. S. Agathon. K. Agathon. Something clicked. Was your callsign Helo? she asked Dad.

Yes. How did you know?

Sometimes Mom calls you that . . . not often, but it happens. I dunno, I guess I thought it was some kinda nickname.

Her parents chuckled. What was yours, Mom?

Athena. She sounded wistful, but she was smiling.

That’s a cool one.

Dad pretended to be affronted. What’s wrong with Helo?!

It’s nothing, Helo’s great, but Athena sounds really awesome – Dad what’s that?

That? Oh, it’s something Starbuck did back when –

That’s enough. Mom stood up abruptly. She reached across the table and plucked the photograph from where it was resting in the box. Hera caught a glimpse of red, yellow, and blue swirls, but that was it.

Mom! Hera exclaimed, shocked.

Sharon, it’s just the photo from –

I know what it is, Karl, Mom snapped. We agreed. Not that. Not yet.

Dad sighed. Sharon, I know, but –

She’s too young, Karl!

Hera stood up, knocking her chair to the floor in the process. Hera! Dad said, warningly.

No! Stop yelling! I am old enough. I am! So why don’t you tell me?! There’s something you’re keeping from me and I want to know what it is!

Dad stood up. Go to your room, he said, quietly.

But Dad – she . . . you –

I said, go to your room. His voice brooked no argument. But she would get her last shot.

I hate you. I hate you both!

Δ

Hera searches her satchel and finds the twine. She sets up a snare a few yards away from the rock and waits. She doesn’t expect to catch anything, but she’s still hungry and it doesn’t hurt to try. She tends the fire, feeds it with the dead branches she was gathering before she realized she was lost.

It’s getting darker.

Why the frak did she have to insist she was old enough?


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 Post subject: Re: Parental Guidance, by threemeows, Hera, Helo/Athena, PG
PostPosted: Mon May 11, 2009 1:04 pm 
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Joined: Mon Apr 20, 2009 5:34 pm
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Δ

She couldn’t sleep. She shouldn’t have said those things.

She knocked on the doorway to her parents’ room before lifting the hide flap. Mom? Dad?

Her parents sat up, their bodies shadowy in the moonlight. Yeah, baby? Dad said, blearily. Mom yawned beside him.

Sorry. I thought you guys were still awake.

No, it’s ok. Come in, honey, Mom said, waving her inside.

Hera let the flap fall, and sat on their pallet, folding her legs underneath her. Best to get it over with as fast as possible. I’m sorry. She swallowed past the lump in her throat. I shouldn’t have said I hated you two.

Hera . . .

Honey, it’s okay. Come here.
Mom held out her arms and Hera went to them gratefully. She sniffled a bit against her Mom’s shoulder and felt her Dad rub her back gently.

It’s just that . . . I don’t understand. I feel like there’s this big . . . thing . . . I don’t know what it is. But there’s something you’re not telling me. It’s something important. And I know I’m still a kid, and I’m you’re only kid, but don’t I deserve to know?

Hera.
Dad sighed. You’re mom and I – we just think it’s best this way. I know that’s not what you want to hear right now, but you are too young to hear all this now. One day you’ll know what we’re talking about.

They sat there for a while, just listening to the insects chirping through the slats of the logs. Mom said, C’mon. It’s time for bed.

Hera nodded numbly – she felt exhausted. Mom led her back to her room and tucked her in, something she hadn’t done since Hera was very little. She played with her curls and hummed the tuneless lullaby that she used to sing to Hera when she was a baby. Before she fell asleep, she murmured, Love you, Mom.

She dreamed she was sitting on a table that glowed, playing with toy ships that weren’t made of wood, singing an old song.

Δ

Hera checks the canteen. It’s halfway full. She’ll have to conserve it, just in case.

She considers yelling. But then she remembers the day that the big cat wandered into the village. It shocked the hell out of everybody – usually the wildlife was scared of people, but it was foaming at the mouth and clearly sick. Who’s to say another one of them wouldn’t come and try to make a meal out of her?

The fire crackles – the shadows of branches are stark against the brush.

For as long as she can remember, she’s never been alone. It’s always been her parents and herself.

Even as she thinks it, she knows that’s not true. Mom and Dad never mention it, but Hera can remember – barely. Of crying for hours, hurting and lonely, in the arms of a woman who definitely wasn’t Mom, but looked like her – and Mercedes, and Niobe, and Jaspreet. Of standing in a house – a beautiful house unlike anything on this planet, holding that woman’s hand, and eating a pastry that was gooey and lovely and tasted sweet, sweeter than the berries that grew in their garden. Of sitting in a dark room that throbbed and pulsated with a blood red light, surrounded by three men that terrified her. But clutching her sole friend.

The snare catches, and something small screams a high, thin death cry. Hera starts, then makes her way over to the trap. A tiny rabbit, barely enough meat on it to serve a toddler. But it’ll do. She stakes two branches into the soft earth on opposite ends of the fire, then makes quick work of her future dinner – skins it, clipped and professional, removes its guts without so much a flinch. She pushes it onto a long sturdy branch and places it carefully on her makeshift spit. Then she flings the guts as far away from her as possible, to keep the scavengers away. While the meat cooks – and it does smell good – she preps the fur. If she gets out of this alive, she might be able to trade it for something good.

As she’s working, with only the firelight to guide her, she wonders.

Her name was Boomer, wasn’t it?

She’s so distracted she nearly chars the meat. Sitting against the rock, she nibbles on her dinner and wishes that she had Dad’s touch – he cooks rabbit and fish the best. Mom makes the best stew though. She shivers – it’s still spring, and the nights are not as warm as they can be. A pot of stew would be good right now.

She misses her parents.

Dinner done, she’s still hungry but it’s not unbearable. She makes a cursory sweep of the forest surrounding her spot for some more firewood. She can’t decide if she should sleep or not – if she sleeps, at least she won’t have to think. But she might miss something – rescuers, or a wild animal. Absently, she fingers the gun at her thigh.

Both her parents taught her how to shoot – with a bow and arrow, and a gun. But the gun isn’t to be used unless there’s an emergency – like the incident with the cat. Not enough bullets. They didn’t teach Hera how to shoot with a gun until they were sure she could hold it steady. Until they were sure she could actually hit the target.

Besides practice, she’s never seen her parents fire a gun.

No, she amends, settling down to lay her head on the grass. She remembers Dad hugging her close with one strong arm – the other brandishing one of the biggest guns Hera had ever seen in her life. And Mom – definitely Mom, shooting, like staccato lightning. There was a lot of blood.

And both of them, following a blonde woman – who moved as if wreathed in a halo of righteous fury.


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 Post subject: Re: Parental Guidance, by threemeows, Hera, Helo/Athena, PG
PostPosted: Mon May 11, 2009 1:06 pm 
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Joined: Mon Apr 20, 2009 5:34 pm
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She thinks she’s dreaming when she hears her name being called. It’s not until she feels the hand on her shoulder and she’s blinking in the pre-dawn light that she realizes she had fallen asleep.

“We gotta stop meeting like this,” the bearded man says.

Hera startles. He’s not one of the settlers. She grabs her satchel, stuffs her hand inside – feels the cool grip of her pocketknife. “Who are you?”

He smiles, his blue eyes kind. “You don’t remember?”

Hera shakes her head, cautious. He doesn’t seem dangerous. Two winters ago a man wandered into the settlement, and was accepted warmly. Until a little a boy disappeared, and his bloody clothing found in the lean-to of the man. Horrible wake-up call, Dad had muttered, in a foul mood, after the execution.

“Last time I saw you, you were about this high.” The man lifts his hand to indicate. At her dubious look, he says, “My name is Lee.”

“Lee?”

“I was . . . I am . . . friends of your parents. I just came in yesterday afternoon. They’ve been worried. We’ve been looking for you all night.”

“Then where have you been?” Hera asks.

The man is stamping out the dying embers of the campfire. He shrugs. “Around,” he says, enigmatically. “Did a bit of traveling.” He picks up Hera’s canteen and douses the remains, just for good measure. “You ready to get going?”

Hera hesitates. “I’m sorry, but I don’t think I should.”

The man glances at her, then laughs. “Right. Don’t go off with strangers and all that.”

“Yes, sir. If you don’t mind.”

“Not at all. I guess the others will come by eventually.” He settles down on the ground next to Hera, but not too close.

Hera examines him through her hair. He’s short – he’s probably not that much taller than Mom. His hair is tied in a leather thong away from his shoulders.

“They don’t have razors where you travel?” Hera asks, a bit rudely.

Lee grins. “No. I’ve been avoiding the other settlements.”

That’s suicide. “Why?”

He laughs at her incredulity. “Not all of them. Just most. Didn’t . . . didn’t feel like much dealing with people. Wanted to do some things by myself for a change. Which I guess is why you’re out here?”

“I got lost,” Hera says, sheepishly. “It wasn’t on purpose.”

“Yeah, you have a tendency to do that,” he says. At Hera’s questioning look, he says, “Gods, you really don’t remember?” She shakes her head. “Ha! Your parents were convinced that you’d be in a straitjacket by the time you hit puberty. Nothing at all? You’re parents didn’t tell you?”

Hera deflates, throws a pebble at the remains of the campfire. “No.”

He catches the petulance in her tone. “Ah. Well, they probably . . . well, they do have good reason.”

“That’s what they said,” she mutters. “That’s what they always say. They never talk about being pilots. They don’t talk about living on the star. It’s like it was a bad dream to them or something.”

“In a way, it was,” he says, diplomatically. “There were some bad times up there.”

“But weren’t there good times too?”

He smiles sadly. “Sure. Some of the very best.”

“And it must’ve been so cool. To fly under the Admiral. To storm New Caprica! To fly with Starbuck and Apollo.”

“Starbuck and Apollo, huh?” He smirks.

“Yeah. Dad was good friends with Starbuck.” Hera’s proud grin fades. “I don’t understand why they have to treat me like I’m a baby.”

Lee looks at her sympathetically. “Because you’re their kid, and they love you,” he says.

“Hera? Hera is that you?”

Hera scrambles to her feet. Walking through the brush is Nicky’s dad. “You all right, hon?” he asks.

“Yeah, I’m fine. A little hungry, though.”

“You scared your parents pretty badly,” Brendan says. He turns to Lee. “I heard you were in town,” he laughs, “but I can’t believe it. It’s good to see you again, Apollo.”

“Costanza,” Lee laughs back, shaking his offered hand.

“Apollo?!” Hera squeaks, but they’re already moving off.

“This way, Hera,” Brendan calls over his shoulder.

When they reach the edge of the forest, there’s a small crowd gathered there. Hera, embarrassed, accepts the hugs of her friends and a friendly punch on her upper arm from Nicky. Her parents aren’t back yet, still on their leg of the search. Brendan takes her back to the settlement to get checked out by Howard Kim. He’s finishing up his exam when Mom bursts through the flap.

Hera winces.

“You are in so much trouble,” Mom yells. Hera shrinks back on Howard’s rickety exam and table. “You had me and your dad worried sick. What were you thinking? What the hell happened? Well? Just don’t sit there – ”

“Sharon, honey . . .” Dad admonishes, entering. “Hi, Howard. Is she okay?”

“Fit as a fiddle,” Howard says, standing up. Hera never understood that expression – what in the world is a fiddle? “I’ll leave you three alone. Good to see you back, Hera. Karl, Sharon.”

“Thanks.”

They wait until Howard clears the flap. Hera breathes a sigh of relief. Dad wouldn’t freak out like Mom.

“You are in so much trouble young lady,” Dad barks.


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 Post subject: Re: Parental Guidance, by threemeows, Hera, Helo/Athena, PG
PostPosted: Mon May 11, 2009 1:10 pm 
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The yelling was pretty bad and lasted for a while. Hera sat, curled up on the table, until they were both done. She caught words like irresponsible, completely crazy, who do you think you are. When they were done, Mom hugged her close and kissed both of her cheeks and so did Dad, and Hera caught the glimmer of relieved tears in both their eyes.

They are eating a late lunch now, Hera stuffing her face full of salted fish and bread. She can tell Mom’s still pissed but both of them are in better spirits. She doesn’t understand – yeah, she was gone for a little while, and it was scary but it wasn’t as if she completely disappeared for years. Shouldn’t they be a bit happier?

A polite knock on the door jamb. Dad says, “Come in,” and the flap is pulled aside to reveal Lee. Apollo. Whoever he is, or was.

Dad and Mom both stand up immediately. “Thank you, we heard that you were the one who found her,” Dad says. They shake hands and clap each other on the back. Both Lee and Mom hesitate when it’s their turn to greet each other, but they meet each other halfway – Lee takes her hand, gentle, and she leans in to kiss him on the cheek.

“Yes, thank you,” Mom says, sincerely. “Do you want anything? Water? Berries?”

“Ah, berries, please,” Lee says, as Dad ushers him to a chair across from Hera, and Mom gets another plate for him. “Brendan filled me up pretty good. I haven’t had bread in . . .” He stops, rolling up his eyes in contemplation. “Well . . . I can’t count that far back.”

All three chuckle. Lee notices Hera glaring at him accusingly. “Oh, I guess you’re still mad about that whole thing earlier,” he says, somewhat apologetically.

“You should’ve told me you were Apollo,” Hera glowers.

Lee exchanges grins with Dad. “You look a lot like your mom when you do that,” he says. Mom smirks as she sits down, setting a plate of berries before him. “Sorry. It’s just that I never heard that anyone talk about us that way before.”

“That’s what all the kids do,” Dad says, leaning back in his chair and folding his arms. “Even the other settlements’.”

Lee raises his eyebrows, chewing on his berries thoughtfully. “They do?”

“Yeah.” Mom glances at Dad before she continues. “I guess you haven’t been hop-scotching?”

Lee shakes his head. “No, I haven’t.” He winks at Hera. “I’ve been telling Hera that I’ve done some traveling. I’ve stopped by at some places, but not much.”

“Ready to settle then?” Dad asks.

Lee shrugs, noncommittal.

“Where have you been?” Mom says, sensing the shift in mood.

“Everywhere.” Lee laughs. “There’s this sea way to the north of you – the color of the sky, and a rock at its mouth that’s huge.”

“Sailing?” Dad says, incredulous. “How’d you manage the boat? Where is your boat?”

Lee sticks out his hands. There’s a patchwork of white scars on his palms and gnarled fingers. “I’d rather not say,” he laughs, rueful. “But I left it before I came here. If I ever decide to go back to it, I hope it’s still there.”

They talk like this for a while – longer than a while. Hera grows bored. Where’s the talk of space fights? The practical jokes? The heroic deeds? She excuses herself from the table and sets about doing her chores – sweeping out the dust from her room, making her pallet. When she’s done the three of them are still chatting about boring stuff and she’s so bored she even offers to do the dishes. She goes to the stream with the two tin buckets and fills them up. She boils one over the hearth. When that’s done, she dips the plates in, using the soap sparingly – dunks the soaped plates in the cold water bucket, and wipes them dry with a cloth. She keeps an ear out for the conversation, but they’re still not talking about anything interesting – how the settlement’s coming along, how long did it take Mom and Dad to make the house, what’s happened to who-and-who and such-and-such.

Gods! They haven’t seen each other in about ten years and all they can talk about is crops!

Might as well go see some friends. She starts for the door.

“And just where do you think you’re going?” Mom’s voice is like lightning.

“Um . . . I thought I might go see what Danae’s up to . . .”

“You’re also grounded,” Dad reminds her, evenly. Oh, yeah. That. “Bed.”

“But it’s daylight – ”

“Bed,” Mom and Dad say in unison.

Hera groans and trudges back into her room, letting loose the hide flap for privacy. She lets down the piece of hide pinned up from the window, trying to shade her room – changes into an old shirt that skims her knees and is patched at the elbows, frayed at the seams. One of Dad’s. Then she flops down onto her stomach on her pallet. It’s not as if I got lost on purpose, she thinks bitterly. It’s not fair.

She dozes for a while – she can hear snatches of their conversation, wafting in through her sleep, dreamy like a warm breeze. Mom’s soft, low voice and her quiet laughter. Dad’s deep chuckle.

“I saw Saul and Ellen.”

Hera jolts awake, but she lies perfectly still. If she even breathes, she’s sure Mom could hear her. There’s a long pause, so long that Hera’s almost half-sure that she dreamed the statement. But then Mom says, “And how are my erstwhile ‘parents’?”

“Bad. Ah, good . . . well, I mean . . . Saul . . . Saul’s getting old.”

“He was old before,” Mom says, acerbic.

“True,” Lee replies, and Hera can practically hear the smirk in his voice. “But this was . . . at least a year ago. Maybe more. He had a cough that wouldn’t go away. Ellen was worried. When I left, he’d gotten a little bit better. But he was very . . .” His voice wavers, almost breaks here. “Gods, I hope Dad’s okay. I hope . . . I hope he doesn’t go like Saul.” He pauses, then amends, so quietly that Hera has to strain to hear, “Didn’t go.”

The three of them don’t say anything for a while. Then, Lee says, “So, ah, Hera. She’s almost as tall as you, Karl.”

They all laugh, but Hera can tell – Mom sounds as if she’s been weeping, and Dad doesn’t sound too great, either. “Yeah, she wishes,” he says, fondly.

“Gotta shake her outta that whole running away habit,” Lee teases.

Mom snorts. “I honestly don’t know where she gets it from,” she says. “That girl!”

“Well,” Dad says diplomatically, “she really could’ve just gotten lost.”

“I believe that,” Mom says. “It’s just that she’s got her heads stuck in the clouds so much.”

“She seemed okay when I got to her,” Lee says. “Had a fire going. Trapped something to eat.”

Mom pauses. “She did?”

“Yeah. She’s been trained well.”

The teakettle whistles. Someone gets up and goes to the hearth, another someone lays out teacups. Probably the chipped china ones – the ones from their life before, on the star. “Haven’t had tea in a while, either,” Lee mutters.

“It’s not the Caprican blend,” Dad says, “but it’ll do in a snap.”

“Hmm.”

They don’t talk for a while after the tea’s been served. Hera’s almost asleep again when Lee says, evenly, “Have there been anymore children?”

Dad answers, casually, “Uh, yeah. The Patels had twins a few years ago – ”

“I meant the Cylons.”

It’s Mom who answers, her voice resigned, “No.”

Dad sighs. “Doesn’t matter if it’s a Cylon father or a Cylon mother. It’s the same at the other settlements we’ve been in contact with. The mothers either miscarry, or they’re born premature. They don’t survive much longer after that. If we had the medicine, the equipment, maybe . . .”

“Antonia’s son . . . had blond hair, just like her,” Mom says, her voice empty. “She cried for days.”

“Baby,” Dad says, gently. There’s the scrape of the chair against the stone floor, and Hera knows her father has gone to her. It makes Hera feel strange – to hear her Mom and Dad be so upset. She’s always known them to be happy, to laugh and crack jokes, to bear everything with patience and good humor.

“It’s the end of us,” Mom says, teary. “It’s the end of us, and then, it’ll all be on her.”

Hera’s breath catches.

“You don’t know that.”

“It’s been over ten years. If it was going to happen, it would’ve happened by now.”

“We’ve only had a few Cylon-Human couples since we came here,” Lee points out, softly. “Didn’t you say?”

“It won’t be all on Hera,” Dad says. “It can’t be.”

“And we don’t know that, either,” Mom replies, softly. “We fought tooth and nail to get her back . . . to make sure she lives. Because if she doesn’t, we’re done. It’s over.”

There’s nothing now, just the sound of the fire, snapping in the hearth. Someone moves on shaky feet to add another log – Dad, from the sound of it. He’s shuffling. His leg must be bothering him again; it does that, on occasion.

“She knows you’re keeping stuff from her.” That’s Lee. “This isn’t my place to say . . .”

“As if that’s ever stopped you before,” Mom says. There’s a hush, a chill that slivers down Hera’s throat. But then the both of them are cracking up, stifling their snorts in their teacups and palms pressed to their mouths. Even Dad chuckles, and Hera can sense the relief in him.

“Sorry, sorry . . . go on . . .”

“Maybe it would be better if she hears it from you,” he says. “Give her more credit.”

They’re all quiet again. Hera waits and listens but whatever mood came over them is gone now – they’re back to talking about ordinary things, mundane things. Hera lets her parents’ voices lull her into sleep.

When she wakes, the birds are trilling their morning song, but dawn hasn’t quite broken yet. She changes into her hide workshift and creeps out of her room. Lee is asleep, by the smoking remains of the hearth, his head pillowed by his satchel. The flaps of the windows are already up and she can see Mom in the garden, gathering potatoes for breakfast. Hera finds the tin buckets by the door and heads to the creek.

As she fills the buckets, she steps into the water so that it rushes by her ankles – she feels the stones, smooth and slippery, between her toes. This is the creek that she’s known nearly her entire life – where she’s played, where her Dad has fished and brought them supper. Where the three of them spent hours selecting flat rocks to use for the floor of their house. Where she’s sat and sang songs with words that never had any real meaning to anyone but her and collected pebbles and arranged them in lines, in patterns that made sense out of nonsense.

This is her home and her life and she loves it. It’s where she’s meant to be.

She sets the pails down in the house quietly – Lee is still slumbering. Dad’s just emerging from his room, yawning and stretching. He tousles Hera’s curls before making his way out of the house to use the privy in the back. Hera strolls over to the garden, feeling the sun’s first warmth glimmer on the apples of her cheeks and eyelashes.

“Good morning,” Mom says, not looking up from digging out the potatoes. “They’re a bit small, but hey, we’ve got guests, so . . .” She shrugs, standing, clapping her hands free of dirt and wiping them on her apron. She stoops to grab the basket, but Hera obliges. “Oh, that’s okay, honey, I can – ”

“No, I’ll get it,” Hera insists, shifting it against her hip.

Mom smiles, warm and pleased.

“Who’s Boomer? What happened to her?”

Mom takes a visible step back, her face grey. “I – ” she starts, licking her lips. “Who – did Lee . . . ?”

“No. No . . . I just have . . . I have the weirdest memories, Mom.” She sets the basket down and goes to her mother, wrapping her arms around her waist. Mom hugs her close without hesitation. “I don’t remember a lot of things, do I?”

“No, baby,” Mom murmurs into her hair, kissing her forehead. “No you don’t. And I’d prefer to keep it that way. I’d prefer to keep you just as you are, without a care in the world.”

“It’s okay, Mommy,” she says, and she knows it is. “You can tell me. I think . . .” She pulls away slightly, to put her hand against her own heart. “I think I already know. In here.”

Mom nods. “Boomer was . . .” She sighs, searching for the words.

Hera waits, patiently.

“Boomer . . . gave me my life.”


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 Post subject: Re: Parental Guidance, by threemeows, Hera, Helo/Athena, PG
PostPosted: Mon May 11, 2009 1:12 pm 
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Δ

The sun is high by the time Mom finishes. They’ve moved to the shade of the trees by the side of the garden. Dad poked his head out of the house once – seeing them there, he quietly retrieved the basket of potatoes and hadn’t been out since. But Hera can see movement through the windows and knows he’s probably pacing, dying to know what the hell is going on. She wonders what Lee is up to – she saw him leave towards the settlement, but without his satchel, clean-shaven and hair cropped.

Mom is lying back against the tree trunk, the massive roots a pair of perfect armrests for her. She’s braiding and unbraiding Hera’s hair into two thick cords. It’s soothing and comforting for Hera’s heart, which has been jumping and dipping with each revelation. It’s hard to wrap her mind around it – about this woman who was more than just like her mother, and yet so very different, who caused everyone around her, and herself, so much pain. But who made a final choice and then waited – to finally, mercifully die.

“Do you think she . . .” Hera hesitates. “Do you think she’s okay now? That she’s in Elysium?”

“No,” Mom says definitively. “I know.” And then she tells her about Starbuck.

“The best your father figures, she was an angel,” Mom says, completing one braid. She smoothes it flat against Hera’s back, then combs her fingers through the other section of curly hair. “I really can’t say either way. All I know, and what’s most important to me, is that she helped get my family back.”

“So she was an angel, then,” Hera muses.

Mom laughs. “Yes.”

Hera pauses, then decides to plough on. It’s a very Starbuck thing to do, she’d like to think. “So . . . I might be the last one of us, huh?”

Mom stiffens. “Yes,” she says quietly, starting the braid. “You might be.”

“Is that why you and Dad didn’t want to tell me? I . . . kinda guessed. I heard you three talking last night. I’m sorry, I know eavesdropping is rude,” she says quickly.

“It’s okay.” Mom finishes the braid, then wraps her arms around Hera’s waist. “Yes. Daddy and I just . . . we didn’t want to burden you with that. You’re not a baby anymore, but you so young, honey. You shouldn’t be thinking about being . . . well, about being the savior of the Cylons. You should be climbing trees. Playing games. Getting lost in the woods.” Here, she tickles Hera’s side and they both giggle. “I’m sorry we freaked out. You do understand why we did, though, now, right?”

Yeah, she does now. Especially if she had a tendency to do it before. Hera nods. “I’m sorry I wasn’t paying attention.”

Mom kisses the back of her head. “Good.” They sit, watching some of the grey horned beasts graze in the distance. “You okay, honey?”

“Yeah.” And she is. It’s good to know these things now – to know where she’s come from. Where she might be going.

And even if that is uncertain, unknown, it’s all right.

She’s got time.

Δ

Lee leaves two days later. He’s got a fresh pair of moccasins he traded from one of the settlers. Hera’s fashioned the rabbit skin from her catch in the woods into a muff. “I know it’s really for girls,” she says, sheepishly, “but just in case you go someplace cold. Or you can trade it for something more useful.”

He laughs and stuffs it in his satchel. “Thanks,” he says, sincerely.

“Don’t be a stranger,” Dad says, after they clasps hands and clap each other on the back. “You should really come back more often.”

“Sure the wife won’t mind?” Lee asks.

“No, I won’t,” Mom replies. They hug, and Karl smiles. “We miss her too,” she whispers to him, but it’s very low.

They watch him go, heading towards the settlement for his final goodbyes there. Then Mom hands Dad and Hera the baskets. It’s time to harvest the peas before they rot. There’s no use in standing around when there’s work to be done.

A month later, Dad declares they need a vacation. Mom protests a bit, but Dad’s arranged it all – Brendan’s to look after the homestead, in exchange for his pick of the best stuff in the garden. Mom hems and haws a bit but she relents after Hera and Dad grab her ankles and pretend to plead. It takes them four days to get to the ocean, hiking at a leisurely pace – pausing to look at the new beasts on the way. Dad’s excited to see a big spotted cat that moves quicker than the plain golden ones near their settlement; Mom’s enchanted by all the different kinds of birds.

Hera has never seen the ocean – any ocean. She squeals when the water breaks against the sand, the rumbling softer than lightning but somehow just as loud, the spray swirling against her calves. Dad laughs and hauls her up on his shoulder so that she’s dangling head-first close to the water – she can see the teeny fish and shells scrambling in the surf by Dad’s feet – and she shrieks and laughs and laughs. Mom catches strange shelled creatures that she insists are good to eat – Hera can’t see how, they look like huge, flat, crunchy spiders – and they boil them in the pot they brought along, strapped to Dad’s back, but she should know better than to doubt Mom. It’s the most delicious thing Hera’s ever tasted, although hard to break into. They use rocks to smash them open and it’s a mess but it’s tasty. She wishes they could bring some back with them, but there’s no way they’d keep during the journey.

The last night there, Hera lies between her parents, snuggled underneath hide blankets. Mom doesn’t talk, and her breathing is slow, rhythmic, matching the steadiness of the waves. But Dad lies with one hand underneath his head, and the other stretched towards the black of the sky. In between pointing out the stars, he tells her how he fell in love with Mom.

“That’s what we want for you,” he says when he finishes. “To be loved and love whoever you want back, without reservation or worry.”

Hera smiles in the darkness. “Okay, Dad.”

He yawns. “I talked your ear off, didn’t I? Mom asleep?” There’s no answer, just an indistinct murmur to Hera’s right. They both smother giggles.

“Love you, Daddy.”

“Love you too.”

The hike back is shorter. Their trip was wonderful, but Hera’s relieved to see the creek, the garden, the tree where her rope swing used to be – she feels the grin on her face down to her very bones. When they get home, Liang’s at the house, chatting with Brendan and Nicky at the table. They both rise, grinning. When she was younger, Hera used to think the Twos were strange, but when he smiles, all Hera can see is a happy man. “Jenna gave birth almost right after you left,” he says. “It’s a boy.”

“He’s healthy as a horse,” Brendan says.

Dad and Hera congratulate him immediately.

Mom just cries.

Δ

It’s not until her youngest is born when he comes back. Hera’s in her own garden by then, the infant strapped to her back with rag cloths and leather, both of them shaded with an oversized reed hat. Her eldest daughter is picking berries and depositing them in her own basket, but Hera can see the distinctive pink smear against her gummy lips.

“Mommy, someone’s coming,” her son says, tugging at her sleeve.

Hera removes her hat and stands up smoothly, careful not to disturb the baby. He’s gotten older, of course – his hair and beard have gone completely grey, and he no longer walks with the smooth gait of a young, healthy man. He blinks when he sees her, then laughs, “I thought you were your mother for a second.”

She shakes his offered hand. “It’s good to see you again, Lee,” she says, warmly. But she doesn’t say who he resembles now. “We were going to eat at my parents’ tonight. I’m sure they wouldn’t mind another guest.”

The tension in him visibly eases the stiff line of his shoulders. Hera wonders – how many times has he come across people, to learn old friends have gone? “I would like that.” He then peers at the baby at her back, and the two children hiding behind her legs. “And who are these little guys?”

Hera smiles proudly. “The youngest is Valerie,” and she can tell he catches the reference. “This is my son, William. And my daughter Kara.”

Lee starts, but his eyes soften and the lines on his face crack into a happy smile. “They’re good names.” He winks at them. “I knew your mother when she was about your age,” he says to Kara.

“Grampa and Gramma say Mommy was trouble like me,” Kara replies, very serious.

The adults laugh. “Maybe just a little,” Hera admits.


-End.-


Last edited by threemeows on Tue May 12, 2009 10:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Parental Guidance, by threemeows, Hera, Helo/Athena, PG
PostPosted: Tue May 12, 2009 3:07 am 
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Location: Atlanta, GA, USA
First fanfic I've been able to read in ages, and I was just charmed by it- I do miss that Helo and Athena have become Karl and Sharon and tried to forget the people who lived in the stars. Poor Hera- she'll never be allowed out of the house again! :rock:


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 Post subject: Re: Parental Guidance, by threemeows, Hera, Helo/Athena, PG
PostPosted: Tue May 12, 2009 12:27 pm 
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aw, thanks.

oh, she was allowed out eventually. ;)


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 Post subject: Re: Parental Guidance, by threemeows, Hera, Helo/Athena, PG
PostPosted: Sun Jun 28, 2009 9:35 pm 
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Location: Namur,Belgium
I really appreciated the story depicting the peaceful and happy life they all deserve. Your writing is smooth and fluent. A very pleasant reading.


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 Post subject: Re: Parental Guidance, by threemeows, Hera, Helo/Athena, PG
PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2009 6:19 pm 
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This is very sweet. Thanks for sharing.

You do the child perspective well, too.


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