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 Post subject: Bitter, by The Secret Santa; Helo/Sharon PG
PostPosted: Fri Dec 25, 2009 7:51 am 
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Jolly Old Elf
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Joined: Fri Apr 17, 2009 5:29 pm
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Location: The North Pole.
This story provides some context to the Helo/Sharon relationship in "Colonial Day" and "Kobol's Last Gleaming" to support Helo's change of heart when Starbuck tries to kill Sharon.

BITTER
(A Story in Five Acts)

One

The woman is everything.

He realizes that more each day. Clings to the sound of her voice, the sight of her shadow by his on the ground, the feel of her whenever she strays close. Simple sanity at this point.

Simply everything.

It’s strange, this afterlife. His world is dead, any excuse for hope gone with it. Yet here she is, the dream that was never his to have, one he watched over without imposition, refusing to complicate the choice that was hers to make. That’s the kind of man he is. Or was.

She came back for him in the afterlife. As if the world wants to tell him something, let him see her that way--sacrificing for his sake--so he can remember how beautiful life was. He half expects her to vanish each time he turns around. Each time he sleeps. She just never does, remains here in his arms this morning beneath the shelter of a rocky overhang. Still real.

Sharon Valerii came back to die with him. He keeps up appearances for her sake, will stretch the only chance they have as far as he can, but it’s a losing hand. Has been from day one. Knowing that, he loves her all the more, watches her sleeping face as selfish guilt overwhelms him.

Everything, his last breath included, is for her. He swears it.

What else can he do?

*****

She will betray him. One way or another. She didn’t understand that when she first ran through the woods to save him from her own kind. Didn’t know the truth about love, how deadly a weapon it is. Sharpest when it cuts without hope.

Three exits left--leave him, tell him the truth, or let him discover it on his own--each guaranteed to shatter his heart. She knows that, which is the damndest thing. Why does she know anything about hearts? She doesn’t even know who or what she is, some faulty collection of memories weighing down on a half-formed Cylon as it sinks.

A pregnant, half-formed Cylon.

A traitor, too. Some delusional, pregnant, hopelessly in-over-her-head Cylon traitor. Frakked, frakked, frakked and frakked. Bet on the losing side after the game was over.

Helo would be better off dead than what she’s done to him. She meets his gaze over their threadbare breakfast, smiling for a good man who needs her, knowing what the loss of Sharon will do to him. What the truth or anything else she chooses will ultimately do to him. He’d have suffered less without her. Maybe her only hope is to die with him, let him go down believing his Sharon is still there. Is that why she really stays, once she strips away all these half-human delusions—to find the best place to die? Somewhere she can tip her hand, give them away to go down together in one last stand. Him to the soil and her to a box.

Could she betray him like that, for mercy’s sake? Betray this unborn child who has no more chance than he does. Die with both of them. There are a dozen other ways this might end if she could just do the one thing she’s supposed to. Except she can’t.

She won’t leave him. So she kills him slowly instead, upping the ante with every word.

“Happy Colonial Day,” he says.

“What?”

“Colonial Day. It’s today, you know.”

“Oh, yeah,” she lies. “I forgot.”

He hugs her lightly, bucking her up the way he does, believing it makes a difference, that she’s not a Cylon, which she is. She could almost believe it herself when he holds her like that, if every word out of her mouth wasn’t a lie.

If she wasn’t a lie.

“You and me, huh, Sharon,” he says as they load up. “We’re going to make it.”

“Sure we are, Helo.” She smiles again, sticks the shiv a little deeper. “Sure we are.”

Two

The rain is relentless. Remorseless. Tears for a dead world.

Delphi wasn’t directly targeted by the full assault. It was taken from within, its military installations used to facilitate the main attack. That’s why this historic city remains so recognizable here in its storied valley at the foot of the Acarnanian Mountains.

“I can’t believe how intact it is,” Helo says peering through the glasses. “The Telamont Building is still standing,” he adds, motioning at an elegant spire rising in the distance. “That’s Delphi all right.” He hands her the glasses. “Now all we have to do is wait until dark, infiltrate the most heavily fortified military hub on this planet, hope the Cylons haven’t completely wasted the spacecraft, and steal a ship. Then locate Galactica and fly to her without getting shot to hell.”

“Is that all?” she says. He gives one of those half-a-breath laughs with a gallows grin, doesn’t know she’s already picking up telemetry, electronic lay of the land. It’s impossible not to sense when it blankets an area as thickly as this. She projects, sees the valley panoramic before her, sliced into contours of approach, which ones are clogged, which have snares for the unwary, and which might be passable. “Well, I guess we can relax until dark. Might as well make ourselves comfortable.” She heads back to their packs while studying contours in her head. “You hungry?”

“Nah. Not right now.” He rubs his face as she pulls out a can of stew. “Stomach’s feeling better?”

“I’m starving.” Cold stew. She needs to wolf it down fast, try not to smell it.

He paces. “I’ve been trying to make sense out of the two women we saw with the Cylons.”

“And?”

“I can’t fathom why anyone would want to help the toasters.” That’s a lovely word. “And…they just happen to be twins? It’s too weird.”

“You got a better explanation?” She winces at her tone. It sounds lame. Guilty.

“You think the Cylons could be messing with human DNA, cloning people or something?”

She lies. It’s what she does. “Could be.” She’s identified at least two paths into the city that might work, the pass points. Three others that will get them killed. Dead ends.

“That…That would explain how they took us by surprise,” he says. “They had these replicated humans infiltrating the Colonies, laying the ground work for surprise attacks.”

She chewed too long on that swallow, feels its taste swell out bad, covers her mouth for a moment. Turns her head away from the smell of that damn can. Live or die. Which will hurt him more? “You know, if they were human clones, that means they’re capable of …of complex emotions. Maybe even love. Maybe they were misguided in the way that they were indoctrinated. But really--“

“Whatever they are, they’re not human. No human could do the things they’ve done, kill billions of people! They got to be frakking Cylons, just like the rest of them.”

Complex emotions. Misguided. Who was she trying to sell—him, or her? Does it even matter?

“Frakking Cylons!” Helo spits as he turns away.

No, it doesn’t. Sharon takes a mouthful of stew, swallows as she chews, then another. She starts looking at those dead ends more closely.

*****

The ground around Delphi is almost pleasant. It still feels like the past he’s lost, an easy Saturday hike in the woods, the scent of freshly damp plants sweet in the air. Helo remembers a cadet hike that felt this way, how a classmate named Kara Thrace shone young and wild in the world. He wonders if she’s still alive.

Probably not. Kara would have pushed any luck she had past the breaking point.

They evaded a Heavy Raider looping circles three klicks back, two Centurions on the ground fifteen minutes later. He should have slept earlier, because Sharon is saving his ass right now, picked up both of those and several others, which means he’s not sharp. No way a rook Raptor pilot should be picking up slack for him on a ground pound. Of course, Sharon’s stronger than he thought. She’s kept a pretty good pace the whole time here.

“You should have been a Colonial Marine,” he jokes. “Ever give that any thought?”

“Who do you think I am? Starbuck?”

“The junior version. Sweeter.” She gives him a finger. “My point exactly. See the way that finger lazily floats there. Starbuck would have shot it out ramrod straight, scared woman and children before the first curse.”

“Remind me to ask her for lessons.”

“Don’t. I think you’re fine as is.” He notices how she keeps fidgeting with her gun hand, almost a pantomime. Acting out how to use it. ‘With any luck, we’ll miss the real patrols. We’ve managed fine this far.”

No answer. Her eyes are inscrutable, as if she’s seeing phantoms, things he can’t. Brave and tough, but no ground pounder. He halts to pull her aside. “You’re doing great, Sharon. No complaints, so just keep your edge tight, okay? Don’t let it fray.” She nods, still inscrutable. “I wouldn’t have made it this far by myself, don’t think I could go on without you.”

That gets a reaction. An odd one. She tears up angry, tries to turn away. He doesn’t let her. “Hey, sorry. It’s only no one ever did anything like this for me before. You didn’t just save my life. You’ve been true to me, truer than anyone has a right to ask.”

Odder still. She bends her head to his chest, a slight “frak” whispering up. He waits for it to pass. “You okay?”

“Yeah,” she says. One minute after moving on, she halts: “Not this direction.”

“What?”

“This corridor. I have a bad feel about it. We should head north for a while.”

“I don’t see—“

“Trust me. I won’t let you down, Helo. I promise.” That’s weird, too. “North. Please?”

“All right. North it is.”

*****

It’s the older spaceport in Delphi, ex-military turned over to civilian authorities three decades ago. Not the best, yet optimally located for strafing runs down the valley. There’s no question the Cylons are using it, ships available, and two refugees are finally there.

Helo and Sharon. They sprint to an embankment wall, turn their backs tight against it and wait side by side.

“Any second now,” Helo rasps.

Her heart slams like a trip hammer. She hasn’t steered him into a last stand, kept her word, which leaves them back at nowhere. He’ll find out sooner or later. She reaches out to take his hand: “If we get caught… If anything happens…”

“You don’t have to say anything. I know.”

No, Helo, you don’t. She just stares at him.

“We’re going to make it, Sharon.”

He’s lying now, for her sake. She wants so badly to be his Sharon, the one she pretends to be. The Sharon she was when she raced through those woods to him, when she told him to go north instead of continuing on to go down together. She wants that so much… In the end, nothing can keep them together, but she reaches one hand out to his cheek anyway, leans in to kiss him, lets it linger soft and desperate and sad for as long as she can. All those memories she has fall into place, and they don’t feel half-formed. She is Sharon--traitor, liar and fraud. The woman who loves Helo with all her heart.

A flight in landing ends it. Then he’s saying “Go, go, go,” as they hop the wall, Helo and Sharon going for broke. Pushing a losing hand as far as they can.

Helo and Sharon. She’s not going to let him down.

They’re up high now, angling for position. He motions, she moves; one person, one heartbeat. She checks the back side clearance, gauges targets of opportunity and heads back.

Too late. She’s on the ground below, dressed different. Helo stares at her down there as that Eight reaches behind her back to pull a gun. Sharon draws and shoots herself three times. It’s like she feels each impact. Of course she does, because Helo looks at her now, not the way he used to, looks at Sharon the Cylon instead.

No exit. She’s betrayed him, and the pain on his face is unbearable. He runs right past her, running to nowhere, a good man who just lost everything.

She runs after him, calls his name. He doesn’t stop, merely looks back once, gun half pointed at her, his face a mask of shock, hurt and hate. Then he’s gone.

“Helo…” Helo and Sharon. The drop dead dream..

They’re both broken now.

Three

He can’t think straight. Can barely breathe. Gods. It takes all his effort to keep one foot stepping in line after the other, steering a course to someplace that no longer matters. It’s instinct. Gut animal instinct, without which he’d lie down and die.

There was a course on this at the academy--Understanding Defeat. How to recognize it on the horizon, feel it, react to it and lose one battle instead of a war. Lots of analysis and statistics, but it was the personal observations that stuck in memory, the realization that defeat is subjective. People who don’t control the outcome may not feel defeated. Those who do are devastated.

A Caprica montage plays in his head. When it first came to him, the blonde Cylon it shot. How they survived so long on their own. How come you never get tired?...Just trust me, Helo. The way it led him around by the nose. “Whatever they are, they’re not human. No human could do the things they’ve done, kill billions of people!” Go north. “They got to be frakking Cylons, just like the rest of them.”

An intersection looms. Right or left? Who gives a frak? He veers left, running on empty. When the Colonies died, that wasn’t his fault; when he stayed behind on Caprica, that wasn’t really his fault, either, simply fate. He didn’t control the outcome, wasn’t beaten. Until now. He let her in, ignored all the warning signs, let her use him up until nothing’s left.

Let himself believe… He skids to the ground, rolls on impact to land fetal and sobbing. Can’t think anymore.

Can’t live. Not like this.

Defeated.

Shots echo in the air. He looks up to see two more Cylons go down, one of their blonde women bleeding, a Centurion sparking. On a paved hill to the west, some two stories above, it’s there, gun aimed down like before. It calls his name, and he hates it so much he can stand.

Hates it so much he’s running anywhere but here. Anywhere but her… It! That’s not Sharon, and he can keep going as long as he hates it.

*****

This isn’t working. Helo won’t respond, can’t survive like this. Not with search and destroy ramping up from the spaceport.

Initial panic fades, and she knows what to do. Telemetry projects all around her, an electronic ocean close enough to pulse. She drops her backpack, reaches into it while simultaneously searching with her mind. The flare is the easy part. Painting herself into the search pattern is what’s hard, finding the right trip wires to fix their target. That feels like a flare going off in her brain.

When she can finally see through the pain, the Cylons are massing. Her kind are massing. Locked on target.

She heads in the opposite direction from Helo. Rain falls anew as she leads his pursuers away, sacrificing herself for him.

That’s how she’ll remain his Sharon for as long as she can.

*****

She’s a mess. Short on food or water, the fetus in her belly screeching want. Run to ground. Mobile misery surviving on instinct alone.

The plan had been simple--stay alive long enough to give Helo a good start. Seems she’s better than she knew, though, gave them a damn good chase. It finally turned dicey when she criss-crossed between the Centurions. She’d almost stepped through them clean when one she missed caught her with a wicked backhand that should have been the end game, except it knocked her into a storm channel. Got caught in flotsam and pulled under by the current. Almost drowned. Impact with something hard broke her loose into a free flow struggle exhausted by the time she clawed up an embankment miles downstream.

Best to just lie there and wait. They’d pick her up eventually. Or would it be better to roll back below and drown after all? Both options end in a box, the latter probably quicker. She debated her next move until she noticed the Telamont Building looming off to her left. That angle was different than any she’d seen it from, triggered a memory of rain and stew, Helo regaling her with stories of his summer in Delphi, how often he took the river walk on the south side, did it every day to the point where—

That’s where he’d go. Familiar ground. He’d make it to the river and follow that, maybe duck back and forth into the city alongside, surely return to his marker. The only reason they hadn’t come that way in the first place was distance, way off course for the spaceport. But now… Now he had nothing but time, for as long as he lived.

An emotional wreck, too. Familiar ground would be the path of least resistance.

The storm channel she rode went south, had carried her miles ahead of him. She started matching markers against the map in her head. It showed a bend in the river with a commanding view of the northern approaches. She’s almost there now, didn’t stop for anything, wasted no time.

She’s as good as dead. And Helo is still everything, no matter what he thinks of her. If there’s any chance left to help him, that’s where Sharon belongs.

*****

Helo’s a mess. A hollowed out core running on nothing. He can’t even squeeze fuel out of hating her... It! Frakking it! Can’t go to that well anymore. Any image of her face, every thought of her running alongside, guts whatever stamina he has left. Tears streak from time to time, which is better. He only has himself to hate for those.

If it weren’t for the river he’d be going in circles. What he’ll do once he clears Delphi he doesn’t know. Honestly doesn’t care.

He’s as good as dead. Knows the face he’ll see as he fades out.

Hates himself for that.

The injured leg is starting to slow him down again. It’s been pushed too far, keeps getting pushed as he veers up into the Apollo Promenade. He can cut the river bend through that, save a little time and distance. Still playing soldier boy, he keeps his weapon up, muzzle following the eyes even though his reflexes are so degraded he’ll be fodder for the first patrol he meets. Hell, the eyes are already starting to play tricks on him.

Maybe that’s why he doesn’t react when she first steps out from behind a pillar. Stepping slow like a vision. Or maybe that’s just him. The threat finally registers as real when she pivots to face him, gun dropping to her holster.

“Stop! Don’t come any closer!” Eyes and hand are adequate at this range. Maybe.

She stands there staring at him, her eyes small and sad. He can’t take that… It’s not…

Never was.

He’s not sure who he hates more, the woman or himself. It’s enough to simply hate, let that shine through to steady his hand. Gods. Just shoot.

She starts to say something, then doesn’t. Her eyes get sadder as she watches him, shoulders slumping down. “Just do it.”

There’s a tear in his eye. He thinks there might be one in hers, too, doesn’t know what to do about that, feels obscene thinking of it. This thing that murdered his people, this terrible, gentle thing… Gods! He fires, thinks he aimed true, sees her spin about to roll down stairs into the open mall below.

“Unnh.” He convulses with half a moan, feels obscene watching as she crawls back up the steps. Eventually, she stops trying and rolls over, face upturned to the sky. Waiting.

He approaches it cautiously. Winged the left shoulder. Should have done better than that. He aims to finish the job. She closes her eyes, softly waiting.

Still waiting.

Still.

Four

It’s a simple bargain. Nothing more.

She helps him off the planet, he doesn’t kill her. She doesn’t talk to him, look at him or let him see the silhouette of her face, the way light plays across it. Doesn’t make him remember.

Of course the damn toaster can’t even do that, says she’ll help him even if he does decide to kill her. He almost hit her for that, can’t take this, that most of all. Not her pretending she… That was never true, couldn’t be. She’s a machine, still playing her sick game, using him somehow. If he was any kind of man he’d blow her brains out this minute. He owes the Colonies that much. Instead, he sits in the dark, sheltered from the rain pelting down on her. She’s huddled against a wall, makeshift bandage and sling in place. He can’t see her all that well between the dark and the rain, only every so often when lightning flashes white. He looks away then.

Dead on his ass. Never been this tired in his life. He takes a stim with the anti-rad shot this time, doesn’t feel the rush like he should. Crash and burn overload. They say that can happen, that stims can make it worse on the bad side of that curve. He must look like hell.

“Doesn’t really work as well as before, huh?” she says.

Frakking toaster! If looks could kill. As he’s boring that into her, lightning catches him by surprise. His eyes meet hers clear as day.

“You know, I do get cold,” she adds.

Frak you.

“There are some things you should know, Helo.”

“Don’t call me that. You’re not even Sharon. You’re not even human! So don’t start acting like you know me, because you don’t!”

“But I am Sharon, and that’s part of what you need to understand!”

He fires, shatters concrete in front of her. She winces from the sound and a ricochet of fine rock. “Sharon was a friend of mine, Whatever twisted thing you are, you’re not Sharon! You got that!” Gods damn! “The only thing I want from you is a way off this frakked up world. That’s it!”

She doesn’t back down, eyeballs him. Damn lightning picks that moment to strike again. He shoots more concrete. She doesn’t flinch this time.

“Okay, I’m not Sharon,” she says. “I’m a twisted thing. Fine. But they wanted me to kill you, and I didn’t. I know that much.”

“You’re not getting any credit. Do you understand? You’re a frakking Cylon!”

“Yeah, I am.” She lets that linger long enough to let him think he’s off the hook. “I’m sorry. For what I did to you. For… you know.”

Shut up!

“I wouldn’t do it again.”

“Then don’t,” he says. “Just shut the frak up.”

He can’t stand to look at even her shadow now, has to though. Needs to keep that gun trained on her. Needs to keep his damn eyes open, risks another stem and keeps boring into her. If looks could kill. He keeps pushing that thought, stands to stamp his feet from time to time. Keep the gun on her. Keep her at bay.

Helo wakes up when his head hits concrete. It’s classic dream confusion, dislocated, looking all around without seeing, a slight mutter sounding in his ears. He looks for the gun. Looks pathetic, hands wild until he finally turns toward the Cylon, expecting her to be gone or worse.

Or worse. The gun must have bounced next to her when he dropped it. Eyeballing him hard, she lifts it by the handle. “I believe this is yours.”

He waits for a punch line that doesn’t come. She holds the gun out, handle in her palm, no finger on the trigger. Helo inches toward her as if she were on fire, keeps watching that trigger finger, imagines an evil grin as it slips in and squeezes. She just looks annoyed. He finally gets sufficiently close to snatch the weapon.

“If you intend to let it bounce some more, I’d appreciate putting the safety on.” He hasn’t got a response for that. “You’re going to die if you don’t get some rest.”

“Go to hell.”

“You’re going to die, Helo! That’s guaranteed without sleep. Another one of those stims and you’ll be seeing things as your pulse spikes into the roof.” He refuses to look at her. “I won’t move. I promise. I won’t budge from this spot.”

“What are you doing?” He doesn’t really want an answer.

“Trying to help you.”

No. “Why didn’t you just kill me?” He doesn’t mean now with the gun, and that’s foolish, the exhaustion talking. He does need sleep.

It’s her turn to ignore him. He should hate her for that. On the brink of collapse, as he’s about to nod off, the mind plays a nasty trick of its own. He gets up and lurches forward, frees that dry spot by finding another six feet away. They exchange wary glances, no trust on either end, until she carefully slides over to take it.

Helo closes his eyes, wonders if he’ll ever open them again.

*****

Sharon watches him sleep.

She managed some rest herself once he let her in from the rain. He remains flat out, down hard, must have been right on the ragged edge. Hanging on a heartbeat. Which is her fault.

No credit for liars. Not anymore. So she just watches.

Hanging on a heartbeat.

He wakes an hour later. She doesn’t speak, supposes that’s best. He seems surprised to find her. Makes this puzzle harder for him to figure, which is also her fault. No matter how many times she saves him or tries to help, this will always be her fault. Every last bit.

It makes her angry. They didn’t teach her about this, how it really works, why it’s not enough to repent and do better.

“How’s the arm?” he eventually asks.

“Okay.”

“You can move?”

“Of course.”

He frowns at that. She manages not to flash a pissy face back. He wants her to take him somewhere safe, some place he can plan his escape in close proximity. That means ships at hand, still Delphi or bust. She discusses the parameters, silently mingles them with her own ideas. The bigger picture.

Bigger admission of fault. Trying to do better whether it matters or not.

They talk enough that she decides to risk a request: “If we could find some food, I’d be very grateful.”

“Gonna’ pretend to eat some more?”

“I don’t pretend to eat, and I’m really, really hungry.”

He leads her to a hotel on the Promenade. The buffet kitchen has lots of old cereal boxes in storage. She should eat the healthy stuff, oats and grains, but sugar frosting is irresistable this morning, like a transfusion. Lots of bottled water, too. Canned peaches and pineapple. She’s ravenous, keeps going back for more until he tells her to stop.

“Thank you,” she says.

The sugar has her thinking more clearly now, to the point where all her mingled ideas stand out in stark relief. She knows he needs more than a spaceship. Knows he won’t listen, either. So she steers him half-blind, It’s easy to do since she’s spotting threats like before, only this time he knows why. Their path follows the river back up as far as it can into the serious occupied zones, where it’s agreed to rest. They sit on opposite ends of some dead person’s third-floor apartment, him by the door, her by the TV.

“How’d you find me?” he asks out of the blue.

She gives him the Telamont story. Doesn’t leave out the part about fighting Cylons, does leave out the part about doing it to help him. If he can’t figure that out on his own he’s an idiot.

“What the hell are you?” That comes out of the blue, too.

“I don’t know.”

“How do they make something like you?”

She shrugs. “The Sharon on Galactica. They’ve been downloading her memories. Sleeper’s are specially fitted, wireless in close proximity to the right Cylon signal, uplink without knowing it. Maybe feel a little jumpy, hyper, write it off as a bad day. The last memory I have is of leaving you on Caprica, so she’d have been in proximity to something. Not hard with Cylons all over the place.”

“Then you remember Adama, me and Starbuck, Tigh?”

“Yes.”

“Tyrol?”

“Yes.”

He’s a little less angry, a little more suspicious. “So it’s a database? I guess you can access it as needed to frak with us.”

“The basic idea.” Back to hostile. “Doesn’t really work, though. Bad plan if they want us to serve.” Still hostile. “Cylon personalities seem shallow, overwhelmed by human memories.”

“That’s because we’re real, and you’re not.”

Ever been pregnant, asshole? “I was real enough to keep you alive.”

“Easy job when you know where they are,” he says.

“I wasn’t talking about that.”

“Then what were you talking about?”

You know. She lets him stew in it, simmer with her. I feel like Sharon, whether I am or not. Doesn’t that count for something?

No. But watching his eyes, she can’t help hoping.

Five

Helo is an idiot.

A total fool.

He let her back in. Couldn’t keep the lines straight, remembered her protecting him, listened to the sound of her voice. Let himself feel not quite alone as she walked with him, all the while telling himself that he got it now—she’s a machine. A screwed machine, but an enemy nonetheless.

He got it. Right. That’s why he’s… here. Led by the nose to... frakking here. “It’s a museum. So what?”

“It’s more than that,” she says. “It’s the home of the Arrow of Apollo.”

Well, that makes all this worthwhile. “What the hell is that?”

Her answer crosses over into the surreal: “You never liked history.”

Faulty circuits. She’s on the fritz as his life becomes a joke, collapsing into some kind of black comedy. Very black.

“Come on Helo, it’s supposed to be the only clue to the location of Earth.”

“Earth? What are you talking about? Who’s going to Earth? It doesn’t even exist, and I’m trying to get back to Galactica.” He’s actually back at his limiter, arms whipping the air in frustration. “What I need from you is a way off this planet and a way back to my ship. And if you don’t do that, I’m gonna’ blow your head off.”

Except he’s lost leverage. Something happened when he woke up and saw her there, watching him from his old spot. She knows it, too, calls his bluff.

“Why don’t you just shut up for a change. You’re only alive because I’ve kept you alive. If it wasn’t for me, you’d be dead by now. Whether you like it or not, I’m your only hope of getting off this planet. So if I were you, I would take that tough guy attitude of yours and shove it up your ass!”

Now is the point at which he’s supposed to blow her head off. Instead he waves it off disgustedly like the joke he is. What’s wrong with me? She’s not Sharon.

There never was a Sharon. He needs to accept that once and for all.

“We still can’t move around the city during daylight,” she says. “So we hole up and wait for dark.”

They make their way up the stairs beneath the Delphi Museum of Natural Science, find a nice, secluded dinosaur diorama to park in. He suspects she stops there because it’s a good two hundred meters to Colonial History by another tunnel. He needs time to cool off before she broaches that stupid arrow again.

Good call. Not all those wires are on the fritz.

He looks away from her, stares face-to-face with a spiky herbivore. That seems appropriate, recalling all that cereal. She eats like a horse. He wonders why he didn’t notice that earlier.

“I’m sorry,” she says. “I shouldn’t have yelled at you. You’re the victim here, and I know that.”

He idly reaches out to flick some fallen plaster off the herbivore’s nose. “I don’t understand what you’re—“

Galactica is looking for Earth. The Cylons know that, okay. We killed you, so if there is an Earth, I owe you the best chance I can give. And what do you think they’ll make of you on Galactica, popping up months after the attack? They’re desperate and afraid, so maybe they stick you in airlock and call it a day, unless you have something to show them. Something they want bad enough to listen.” She pauses to collect her thoughts after that spills out, fingers rubbing her forehead. “I don’t get any credit, and I’m the enemy, but I’m trying to do what I can, Helo. I am. Honest.”

He shakes his head. “You came up with all that on your own?”

“I know the people on Galactica. The person I remember being liked history.” He moves a little closer in spite of himself. “And for all I know, I’m still lying to you. Maybe I really think the Arrow of Apollo would convince them to not put me in an airlock. If you took me back. I mean, if you knew…”

“Knew what?”

The pregnant pause, a very ironic choice of words in the next second: “That I’m pregnant.”

“You’re pregnant?” She eats like a horse. He wonders why he didn’t notice that earlier.

“Frakking echo in here, huh?” That’s sharp, sounds like “shove it up your ass” a second time.

Crazier and crazier. “You can’t be pregnant. You’re a—“ For some reason, he stops short.

“A machine. Right. So why was that blood where you shot me? And I do eat. I eat a lot, when I don’t vomit it back up in the morning. Cereal’s better than stew, you know—no smell.” She’s getting annoyed again. “I am a Cylon. I have some idea what my body is doing.”

“I’m sorry.” That sounds weak even to him, pro forma. “Look, I mean, I’m not going to blow your head off. You understand that, don’t you?”

“You’re a good man, Helo. You always do the right thing.” She’s honest with him. Finally. Totally. The whole story of her mission, how she got that beating, what happened that day in the woods when she came running back for him. What she knows of Galactica and the hunt for it, humans and Cylons, parent and abused child locked in a death grip. They don't know what else to do, because their creators, their fathers, never taught them better. It’s all they have, and they do it because it is bitter, because it is their heart.

And here she is. Ground zero. The Cylon carrying a half-human fetus.

“I don’t know what to do,” she says, a tremor in her voice. “All I know is that I’m Sharon. I’m sorry, Helo, but I am Sharon.”

She’s crying. This can’t be, all of it impossible. It’s damn strange, the afterlife. His world is dead, any excuse for hope gone with it. Yet here she is, whispering his name as he reaches out to take her hand in his.

It’s agony, but what else can he do?

Helo and Sharon. Two dirty, hopeless people staring across a chasm of genocide. They don't know how to cross the line between them, because their world never taught them better. So maybe all that’s left is to try to teach each other. And they do it because it is bitter, because it is their heart.


THE END


With acknowledgements to Stephen Crane and "In the Desert."


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 Post subject: Re: Bitter, by The Secret Santa; Helo/Sharon PG
PostPosted: Fri Dec 25, 2009 4:26 pm 
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Cylon Bible Thumper
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Joined: Mon Apr 20, 2009 9:56 pm
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Location: Northern NJ
Now thats a christmas present! :cheer:

_________________
Sharon, Helo and Hera Always


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 Post subject: Re: Bitter, by The Secret Santa; Helo/Sharon PG
PostPosted: Fri Dec 25, 2009 10:20 pm 
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Cylon
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This is incredible! So well-written, so in-character...Just brilliant!

A HUGE thank you to my SS!

:biggrin:


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 Post subject: Re: Bitter, by The Secret Santa; Helo/Sharon PG
PostPosted: Sat Dec 26, 2009 6:24 pm 
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Administrator
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Just got to read this- it is so good, filling in the spaces and the holes, and you've written it so very well. I want to come back to this after the holiday crazy is over and reread, let it settle in more.

Bravo.


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 Post subject: Re: Bitter, by The Secret Santa; Helo/Sharon PG
PostPosted: Sun Dec 27, 2009 7:50 am 
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Jolly Old Elf
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Location: The North Pole.
mfirefly10 wrote:
This is incredible! So well-written, so in-character...Just brilliant!

A HUGE thank you to my SS!

:biggrin:


Glad you liked it. I must admit I enjoyed writing it. Seasons 4.0 and 4.5 left all the characters somewhat frayed, so it was nice to revisit the primal roots we all enjoyed.


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 Post subject: Re: Bitter, by The Secret Santa; Helo/Sharon PG
PostPosted: Wed Dec 30, 2009 8:49 am 
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Second Seat
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Forget Season 4. This is the Helo and Athena that rocked.


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