Burnt Earth

Fandom: BSG (2003)

Characters: Sam/Kara/Leoben

Rating: PG-13

Warnings: Language, kissing, spoilers for aired episodes.

Disclaimer: Not mine!

Summary: Kara interrupts, finding the familiar stars of the bull above them, "I've led us all to our doom, Sam. Just like the hybrid said I would."

Author's Note: Written for the Fall Fandom Free-For-All. It's also a sequel to Break Down (go ahead and give it to me), though it isn't necessary to read that one first. Written for sionnain's request #6.

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Kara is staring up at the stars.

The others are all gathered around the fires they set when night fell, swift and brutally cold. There isn't much conversation over the crackle and pop of the dry, dead, wood. There is no laughter. No smiles. Just hard people bunched together, humans shoulder to shoulder with cylons, all of them looking like lost children, like loyal pets kicked one too many times by a brutal master, like they've finally forgotten how to hope.

Kara stares up at the stars. They always look different through atmosphere, not as sharp and clear as they do through the glass of her Viper. They look distant. Faded. Pale. Kara tells herself that it's the light of the fire making them look dimmed, and tucks her hands under her arms, walking across the ash under her feet.

By the river, cold and lifeless as everything else on this world, it is darker. The stars reflect on the surface of the water, broken to pieces by constant, choppy, waves. Kara stares at them, the constellations that have guided them being twisted and warped to new shapes, wiped out, popping back into existence when the wave passes.

She bends, palming a piece of the rubble, rough against her palm. For a second she bounces it in her hand, before snarling and hurling it out across the water. It breaks the surface of the water like it's shattering a mirror, shards flying everywhere, the ripples stretching out across to her before it disappears like it never happened.

Kara grits her teeth, so hard her jaw aches, and bends to grab another stone, and another, and another. She throws them until her arm burns, and then she keeps going, the rocks landing closer and closer to shore as her breath gets ragged.

There are stumbling footsteps behind her, but Kara does not turn to look. She just draws her arm back, hurling another piece of rubble out across the dark water, her breath coming in puffs of white in front of her face, floating up to the atmosphere above them, and, someday, millions of years from now, to the stars.

Sam says, "Gods, Kara, what are you doing all the way out here?"

Kara shrugs, and he puts his coat over her shoulders, warm from his body heat, still smelling like the familiar corridors of the Galactica. She throws another stone, and Sam continues, "Oh, frak, let me see," grabbing for her hand, turning her away from the water.

Sam curses again, his fingers warm and strong around her wrist, turning her hand palm up. Kara looks up at the stars, listening to him fuss over the tiny cuts scattered across her palm and fingers, blood pooling warm in the cup of her palm, sliding out towards the edges of her hand. It drips down, living blood on dead ground, soaking into the ash.

Sam sighs, sounding tired, his fingers warm where they're curled around the back of Kara's hand, "Come on, let's get you back to the fires. The President was looking for you and—"

Kara interrupts, finding the familiar stars of the bull above them, "I've led us all to our doom, Sam. Just like the hybrid said I would." She closes her hand into a fist, wet with her blood, the scratches stinging at the pressure put on them.

For a moment Sam says nothing, and then he sighs once more, "Kara..." but there's no argument he can use, nothing he can say. They're staring into mountains of irrefutable proof. She led them to Earth, she gave them everything they wanted in the worst way imaginable.

"Adama should have airlocked me when he had the chance. He should have airlocked all of us, and—"

"You don't believe that," Leoben's voice isn't really a surprise. Kara and Sam don't startle, though Sam's grip on Kara's hand goes just a little bit tighter. Kara tilts her head to the side, watching the cylon walk up, backlit by the fires, starlight catching in his eyes.

Kara scowls at him, her voice snapping like a whip, "You have no idea what I believe."

Leoben stops a step away, his hands shoved into his pockets. He looks relaxed, possibly the only one on the planet that does. He says, watching them, "I know that you've been waiting your entire life for this, Kara. Everything has been moving towards this moment. Tell me you want to give that up, and I'll take it back."

Kara opens her mouth, looking past him to the refugees gathered around the fires. She shakes her head, tilting her face skyward instead, watching clouds spin across the stars and the battered face of the moon. She says, finally, "If all of this is going to happen again, this can't be the end."

There has to be another way out of this. Something they've missed. Some way to make this all better. There has to be some way for her to redeem herself for leading humanity's last remnants to this graveyard, this dead planet, this hell.

Leoben says, "Maybe we've changed the pattern," and when Kara jerks her head down to look at him, he smiles at her knowingly. Then he tilts his head to the side, expression going to solemn, "Not all the roles are for you to play, Kara. That would be too much for even you to bear."

Kara opens her mouth, sharp words poised on the tip of her tongue, and Sam cuts them off, gently squeezing her wrist. Kara looks out across the water instead, at the ruined city that stretches along the far bank, waves lapping at twisted metal and rotting concrete.

She says, soft, absent, "I frak up everything I touch." Every damn thing. Even this, the most important thing she'd ever been entrusted with. The gods should have picked someone better to lead the fleet home. Someone that would have found the right place, a good place, any place besides this one.

Sam says, "Not everything," his voice soft, gentle, sweet. Kara rolls her eyes to look at him, and then finds herself smiling at the way he's looking at her. The wind, cutting and sharp as a knife, is messing up his hair. His eyes, though, are warm.

"Not yet," Kara tries to look up to the sky again, but Sam catches her chin, ducking down and kissing her. She thinks it should be strange, different now that she knows what he is. He's just another fraking cylon, and she'd told him once that she'd kill him if that was so.

That was before the last little bit of her hope was wiped out. That was before the great dream of Earth resolved itself into one more nightmare.

Kara sighs against Sam's mouth, and he makes a ragged, relieved, sound, wrapping one strong arm around her shoulders. When he pulls back, resting his forehead against hers, Kara looks to the side. Leoben is watching them, head tilted with interest, one side of his mouth hitched up.

She waits for him to say something about rivers and streams. To go into another spiel about the eternal pattern and their places in it. But he just watches, not even blinking as he stares. Waiting.

Sam squeezes Kara's shoulders, a slow tightening and release of his grip that could mean anything, or nothing at all. Kara twists her head back around, kissing the stubbled line of Sam's jaw before slowly extending one hand towards Leoben.

Leoben's skin is warm, even in the icy cold night, his fingers sliding across her skin. For a long moment they huddle against each other against the blackness and emptiness surrounding them, heads bent close together, hands tangling in the space between their bodies.

Sam finally says, his tone dryly amused, "All of this has happened before."

Kara laughs at the way Leoben's eyes go a little wide with surprise. She presses her mouth to Leoben's lips, a quick brush, all heat and anticipation. She promises into the air between them, the three of them, standing alone on the middle of a nightmare, "All of it will happen again."

And Sam nods, tapping his knuckles against Leoben's chin, leaning in. Kara watches them kiss, wondering if perhaps she should feel jealous. Instead, she leans into them, resting the side of her head against Sam's shoulder, letting herself soak in their warmth and solidity, while the rest of the foundations that she's built her life upon crumble.

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