Infliction

Disclaimer: The characters of Stargate SG1 and Battlestar Galactica are the property of their respective owners. I have written this story for entertainment purposes only and no money whatsoever has exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended the original situations and plots are the property of the author. Not to be archived without permission.

Author notes: This story takes place mid season ten of Stargate SG1 and end of season two of BSG after Starbuck comes back from the rescue mission to Caprica.

This is a continuation of my fanfic “Destination Earth”

Chapter One

Casting her eyes up Kara was relieved to see the thick cloud drift away, revealing streaks of light in the night sky. Poking her head up from behind the wall for a second she saw a security guard walk back to take his seat behind a small telescope. Crouching back down Kara turned back to her small team. She pinched the end of her nose as a sneeze threatened to shatter their silent vigil. Her body still hadn’t adjusted to planet hopping. Her senses where better adapted to the musty smell of her viper than alien flora. Kara unconsciously felt inside the collar of her Air Force jacket for her Galactica pilot wings before checking her watch. The front door of the Auron healing centre was only a few paces away but it was already too late.

“Okay so the guard obsessed with the asteroid shower is finally looking in the right direction,” Kara whispered. “The other one is still around the back of the building but we’ve run out of time.”

“We’re aborting the mission?” Helo asked, shifting his weight to his other knee.

“No. Just changing the plan.  Helo with the frak up in the gate system we have a fifteen minute window to gate to the Delta site. That window begins in twenty minutes. So you guys need to leave and double time it to get to the gate.”

“We all agreed to this,” Helo said. “We go in with you and then get to the gate.”

“No need for us all to be caught.” Kara swiveled on her haunches. “Lieutenants Tanner and Reese you understand an order right?”

Both young Lieutenants nodded their heads in typical military unison.

“Then get moving. Helo will be right behind you.” Kara waited for them to leave, grateful for their loyality, though, as usual, she wondered how long it would last. Their inexperience and naivety would soon be replaced by ambition. When that happened Kara was sure they’d want more than a pilot as their leader. “Helo, I’m going to set the charge and get out. I need you to make sure they make the window. We don’t want these whiney 13th colonists blaming us for screwing up SG12.”

Helo let out a breath. “Fine, see you in twenty.” He squeezed her arm before cautiously making his way to a line of trees.

Pulling out a small disc that reminded Kara of her old dog tags she stepped out from behind the wall.

“Kara over here.” A whispered voice called from behind a pillar near the front entrance.

“Baylee. Frak me,” Kara said, dragging the woman back behind the wall. Baylee’s mop of black curls fell over her face as Kara pulled her towards the ground.  Her blue dress and heels looked out of place against the moss covered bricks. Kara thought her collection of tight dresses seemed out of place amongst her drab scientist colleagues at the Healing Centre as well.

“You shouldn’t be here. I have your entry chip. Go home.”

“I asked you to do this. I can’t sit at home,” she said, flicking her hair back.

“The plan was we go in so no one connects you to this.”

“I’m going with you. I have to see this through. I owe them that.”

Kara sniffed again, noting the tightness of Baylee’s plump red lips and the narrowing of her brown eyes. It was difficult for Kara to deny Baylee anything when she looked at her with such determination and trust. She’d only known Baylee a couple of weeks but she was sure the determination would not wane. The trust on the other hand Kara thought was only due to the fact that Baylee only knew her as the leader of SG12. She didn’t know her past or her history of mistakes. She only saw Kara as someone who could help.

“Whatever. I don’t have time for another speech.”

“Thank you,” she said, wobbling as she crouched on her heels before throwing her arms around Kara. With a flak jacket and a P-90 between them Kara only managed to return the gesture with an awkward pat on the back.

“Stay behind me.” Kara stood and stalked towards the front door.

Together they made their way down the two flights of stairs and into the third door on the right. A shiver ran down Kara’s spine as she looked at the wrist and ankle shackles attached to the operating table. An array of lasers and drills hung from a giant mechanical arm that looming above the bed. Kara thought a rusty razor would be more appealing as a surgical instrument. Taking out the C4 from her pocket Kara placed a stick at the base of the mechanical arm. She jerked her hand back as if the procedures done contaminated the hulking machinery.

“Are you sure Doctor Apresso keeps everything in here?”  Kara said as she circled the room placing C4 on the computers and cabinets.

“He’s paranoid about someone else using his procedure so all the research and design specs are kept in this room. It will take him years to get up and running again and by then…” Baylee stared at the steel head brace at the top of the operating table as a tear slid down her cheek. “I should’ve found a way to stop this sooner,” she whispered.

“Baylee,” Kara crossed the room. “You did—”

“What’s going on in here?” A grey haired man said from the doorway.

Kara swung around with her weapon raised.

“Dr Apresso,” Baylee said. “You left…I saw you.”

“I came back. You’re a part of that group from Earth,” he said, pointing to Kara. “I want you out of this building now.” His voice was loud in the small room.

“Dr Apresso,” Baylee said stepping closer to the door. “We’ve got explosives set. It’s over.”

“Doctor you need to leave,” Kara added.  “It’s going to blow. All that’s left to do is to walk away and cover your ears.”

“You think I’m going to let you destroy my life’s work.” Apresso pulled out a small computer tablet from his pocket and tapped the screen. A blaring alarm echoed throughout the empty halls.

“Doctor don’t,” Baylee said, reaching for the tablet.

Out of the corner of her eye Kara saw the mechanical arm begin to move. As she turned around the lasers rotated in her direction.

“Kara watch out!” Baylee yelled, knocking the tablet from Apresso’s hand. She was helpless to prevent his finger from sliding across the screen.

Kara heard a crackle of electricity before a blast of light exploded from the machine. Her last thought before her world turned to black was that she had failed again.

****

Kara mentally pushed aside the pounding reverberated in her head to focus on the voice gently teasing at the edge of her awareness. She latched onto it like a tether and let it guide her out of the blackness. Forcing her eyes open Kara locked eyes with the source of the tether.

“You’re here,” Kara rasped.

“I’m here,” Sam said, taking her hand.

Kara searched Sam’s face for any changes since she had last seen her partner. Sam’s fringe was a little longer and her eyes were a little duller. She was tired.

“Where’s here?” Kara took her eyes off Sam to glance around the room. Careful not to tilt her head. She suspected it would make the pounding worse. She could see green corrugated iron walls on one side and a white curtain on the other. Looking down she saw she was wearing a black t-shirt and blue surgical pants. She hoped it wasn’t one of her young Lieutenants that had undressed and redressed her. She hadn’t realized how used to privacy she had become since leaving the close quarters of Galactica. No body from her former life would believe Kara Thrace actually cared about modesty.

“You’re at the Delta site. Helo brought you back two days ago,” Sam said, rubbing her thumb in circles over Kara’s palm. She had obviously forgotten Kara didn’t like it.

“Two days?”

“Do you remember what happened?”

“We were in the lab on x5…something and that doctor pointed his fraked up machine at me…then nothing. Wait is Baylee okay?”

“Kara,” Baylee swept back the curtain and took Kara’s other hand. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t know he was there. I couldn’t stop him in time.”

With her hair tied back, no makeup and clothed in Air Force fatigues Baylee had never looked more attractive to Kara. Despite the pain Kara turned towards Sam. She hoped the involuntary grimace caused by the movement masked the twinge of desire that was just as involuntary. Kara had enough insight to know desire always led her down the wrong path. She moved her hand away from Baylee’s.

“How did we get back here? Did the bomb go off?” Kara asked returning to a safer train of thought.

“I disobeyed orders,” Helo said walking over to the foot of the bed. “I went back when I heard the alarm and hauled your unconscious ass back to the gate. We got out just before the C4 went off.”

“Everyone else get out okay?”

“Apresso got out,” Baylee said. “I just got some cuts and bruises from some of the debris. I feel like my ears are still ringing though.”

Kara resisted the urge to turn back to Baylee to check for herself if the injuries were serious or not.  Releasing Sam’s hand Kara made an attempt to sit up before collapsing back against the pillow.

“Frak. Why does my head hurt so much?”

“It’s the Fracas machine,” Baylee said moving her hand back over Kara’s. “You got an uncalibrated, full force dose.”

“So how long will this pounding in my head last?” Kara asked plastering a look of nonchalance across her face.

“I don’t know,” Baylee answered. “No one has ever been hit with a blast like that.”

Kara looked into Sam’s face. She saw her eyes flick away for a moment. “And?”

“And,” Sam said, before Baylee could answer. “We’re not sure what effect that level of dose is going to have on you.”

“Sorry it took me so long to get here,” Doctor Carolyn Lam said as she walked in pushing a cart full of medical equipment. “Fill me in people.”

“Kara’s been awake for a few minutes and she says her head hurts,” Sam said.

“Because of the Stargate problem I only got bits and pieces of Helo’s report. The message was distorted. So let’s start from the beginning.”

“Well,” Baylee said. “We’ve been at war with the Berence Coalition for nearly twenty years. It’s mostly just small skirmishes now but we have generations of troops that have experienced life on the frontlines. My sup—”

“Maybe we don’t need to go that far back,” Sam interrupted.

“I’ll make it quick but she needs to hear it.”

Carolyn nodded.

“My supervisor, Doctor Apresso, was a military doctor. About ten years ago he got wounded while working at a mobile outpost. After that he got obsessed with painful memories associated with actual pain and that when you pass out you internalize that pain rather than experience it. He believed to recover fully a person needs to be conscious to process the pain. Otherwise the wounds both physical and psychological haunt you causing debilitating chronic illnesses. He built what we call a Fracas machine. In short, through laser intervention it tricks the brain into re-experiencing the pain while staying conscious. Then through cathartic release sessions he implements psychological intervention.”

“You’re telling me no matter how much pain a person’s in they won’t pass out?” Carolyn asked.

“That’s correct. Processing the pain while conscious is a key part of the process.”

“Can I also assume pain killers or sedatives won’t work?”

“No. They won’t have any effect, it’s part of the—”

“Process right,” Carolyn said. “So what can we expect?”

“Like I’ve been saying I’ve never seen the effect of this level of exposure.”

“I need to do some tests to get some answers,” Carolyn said, without missing a beat. She’d long ago adjusted to the fact that the vast majority of her assignments involved working around unknown elements.

Sam kissed Kara’s forehead, Baylee squeezed her hand and Helo patted her leg before filing out of the room. Kara saw the worry etched on each of their faces. She felt it too. At any moment her history was going to be her present. She’d barely survived most of her wounds the first time around and worse her wounds were about to reopen for all the world to see.

Kara felt the familiar craving for the g forces of her viper. To be cocooned in the cockpit accelerating away from her problems. She craved the weapons control under her fingers and the ability to locate her enemies on the radar. In her viper forward wasn’t the only option. Under her expert manipulation her viper could duck, spin and weave around obstacles and enemies. Here all she could do was lie back and wait for the past to resurface. She’d rather face a fleet of Cylon Basestars then the nightmares locked in her mind.

Chapter 2

Stale coffee in hand Sam stared at the computers on a table against the back wall. Since the same power surge that had affected the gate system had also fried the circuits of all the computers at the Delta site the cutting edge technology was as useless as she felt. She thought it was a joke to even designate this planet the Delta site. With so many beta sites destroyed or re-tasked for new allies they should be up to omega by now. With a decade of interplanetary travel she also thought a site should constitute more than a collection of sheds and Air Force issue tents.  She turned away from the offensive equipment as Helo and Baylee stepped through the door.

“Is there something you’re not telling us Baylee?” Sam said shutting the door behind them.

“I’ve told you everything,” she said, taking a seat in a small collapsible chair next to the coffee pot.

“I’ve been here an hour and all I’ve heard from you is ‘I don’t know’. Who the hell builds a machine that’s designed to cause pain? It sounds like something that would be used on an enemy rather than your own soldiers. Since you’re technically still at war with your neighbors it’s conceivable that’s the real reason it was made.”

“That’s insane,” Baylee said quietly. “We would never do that.” She let out a breath and slumped forward in her seat. “I know it’s hard to understand but we trusted doctor Apresso. We trusted that he had found the answer to what you call PTSD. We wanted to make sure we weren’t just treating the physical wounds. He inflicted pain to heal psychological wounds. I…I heard their screams.” Baylee turned away and swiped at an errand tear. “I wanted to make it stop but he convinced me the results were worth it. I trusted him.” She turned back to face Sam. “The whole planet trusted him. Even when I started to question him it got me nowhere. He’s one of the most respected men on the plant. He has the ear of every single member of the Ruling Council and his wife is head of the Enforcement Unit.”

“I still don’t understand what’s going to happen to Kara?” Sam crossed her arms over her chest, her fists tightly balled against her elbows. For her an hour was usually more than enough time to get her head around any problem.

“We would normally only give one dose, once a week and calibrate to the event.”

“Yes you’ve said all that.”

“Without calibration it may trigger more than just the pain signals.”

“Meaning?” Sam asked through clenched teeth.

“Sometimes, not all cases but sometimes, if the calibration is off the patients wounds reopen.”

“No. You’re not saying what hit Kara is capable of triggering cellular memory for a wound?” Sam took a step closer, looming over Baylee like a predator ready to strike. “Tell me you’re not saying that?”

Baylee met Sam’s thunderous gaze with watery eyes. “I’m afraid that’s exactly what I’m saying.”

Sam felt the blood drain from her face and the beads of sweat dampen her fringe. She mentally chastised herself for forgetting who they were talking about. Kara Thrace could handle anything. Couldn’t she. Sam took a step back to lean against the wall.

“What’s that mean?” Helo asked. Is that like muscle memory?”

“Same sort of mechanism yes,” Sam said, “Just like muscles remember how to ride a bike or do a jump shot your body remembers how to return to the state before it was healed.”

“Frak,” Helo said slamming a hand on the table. “You didn’t tell me that Baylee.”

“How long will this last?” Sam asked.

“It will be quick. It should be out of her system within two days,” Baylee replied. She picked up the coffee pot beside her and brought it up to her nose before pushing it away with a sour look on her face.

“How will we tell when it’s done?”

“Her eyes will become blood shot for about half an hour.”

“Why did you have to involve Kara? Why didn’t you just sabotage this program yourself?”

“I tried. I wanted to stay in the program so I could make sure the process wasn’t started all over again. I tried so many times. You don’t understand how hard it was to compete against his power and influence. I needed Kara to help me make it stop.” Standing Baylee flicked her hair. “Kara wanted to help me make it stop, she understood.”

“Baylee could you give Helo and I a minute.” Sam waited for her to leave. “You’ve known Kara longer,” Sam said pushing herself off the wall and refilling her mug. “What do think might come up?”

Helo let out a long breath and took the seat vacated by Baylee. “Honestly with Starbuck I don’t know where to begin.  I think it would be quicker to list the things she hasn’t been through.”

“Yeah that’s pretty much what I thought. This is the worst possible timing. There’s no resources here to help. The trouble with the Gate means we can’t get to Earth or get their help with the problem. We just got lucky that Carolyn was off world.” Sam kicked a small bin sending plastic cups cart wheeling across the floor. Before walking back to her spot against the wall. “She doesn’t talk about her past much.” Sam thought about the look that darkened Kara’s sparkling eyes whenever she asked about Kara’s life on Caprica.

“If it’s any consolation I think she’s let you in more than anyone else,” Helo said, leaning down to pick up the trash by his feet.

“She wanted to stay a pilot. I talked her into joining an SG team.”

“That doesn’t mean—”

“I didn’t even know she was on a mission, that she was off Earth, that you guys would be at the Delta site at the same time as me.”

“Colonel,” Helo tried again. “Nobody talks Kara into anything she doesn’t—”

“I should go see what I can do to help Carolyn.” Sam didn’t even look at Helo as she left. She was thinking about all the promises she’d made to Kara when they first got together. She’d promised Kara she’d see wonders beyond her wildest imagination. She promised being part of the Stargate Program would enable Kara to make a difference to thousands of people on hundred of worlds. But the most important promise was the she’d be right by Kara’s side as she experience it all. She wasn’t keeping any of them.

“So what can I do?” Sam asked Carolyn with an awkward smile. She couldn’t remember the last time she had to ask. Normally she either gave the orders or had the answers. Her analytical brain seemed to be locked away in a vault of worry.

“Nothing yet,” Carolyn answered. “I need to go over the notes Baylee and Helo wrote…Actually there’s something you can do.” Carolyn looked up for the first time. “Kara’s BP is elevated. Can you just keep her calm while I wade through this stuff?”

“That’s it?”

“You’ve already been through the notes and you didn’t come up with anything. So…” Carolyn put the notes down. “Sorry that came out wrong. It’s been a really long week.”

“Its okay. It’s true. I’ve got nothing.”

“Just give me some time,” Carolyn said, reaching over to pat Sam’s hand. “We’ll get Kara through this.”

Peeking through the crack in the curtains Sam saw Kara had a pile of pillows propping her up to a sitting position. Kara was staring up at the naked bulb, her lips moving as if she was making a silent wish. The beguiling look disappeared as Sam pulled back the curtain.

“Hey how’s your head?” Sam asked noticing the BP monitor attached to Kara’s finger as she took the chair beside the bed again. This time she didn’t reach out to touch Kara. She had a feeling it wouldn’t be welcome.

“Less pounding, more Theo Simroll.”

“Sim what?”

“It’s a simulator program for viper pilots back on Caprica. Takes you through a constant roll maneuver.”

“Got it.”

“So,” both women said in unison.

“It’s been awhile,” Kara finished. “I thought the plan was to find a way to sync schedules every few weeks.”

“Yeah the midway station is taking longer than we thought. It’s one of those solve a problem, create a problem situations.”

“I’m not a scientist I wouldn’t know.”

“Well take my word for it. Taking down the Cylons was easier.”

Kara shifted back on the pillows. “You’re comparing tinkering with wires at the midway station with our war with genocidal machines?”

“Sorry, that’s not what I meant. I just meant I was doing everything possible to get back to you.” Sam pulled her chair a little closer. “Circumstances just kept conspiring against me. Which is kind of par for the course. I think our SG1 motto was whatever can go wrong will go wrong.”

“I wouldn’t know about that either I’m only on SG12,” Kara said, twisting the ring on her thumb.

“I hear you guys are doing really well.”

“Yeah guess there aren’t too many expectations. Although after this maybe they’ll put me on lucky 13.”

“Kara this wasn’t your fault.” Sam said, absently tapping her finger on the bed.

“But?”

“I was kind of wondering why you did it. Surely she was in the best position to damage the machine from the inside. How came it required such drastic action from you?”

“Are you asking as a colonel or Sam?”

Sam saw the BP momitor flash red. “I…um I’m not asking. Just worried I guess. It makes me—”

“Maybe you finally agree that I should’ve stayed a pilot.”

“Yes…No… I know you miss it. But actually that’s what I wanted to talk to you about. They’ve been talking to me about going to Atlantis. I think it would a great opp—”

“You’ve already accepted a job on Atlantis?” The BP machine flashed again. “You were going to go a galaxy away without even consulting me?”

“No.”

“Why don’t we just go back to being in separate universes?”

Carolyn rushed in and pushed Sam out of the way. “I need you to leave Sam.”

Looking away from Kara’s cold eyes Sam left without argument. She brushed shoulders with Baylee who didn’t seem to notice her as she entered and took the seat Sam had been sitting in.

“How are…” Baylee began. “Um Doctor you should take a look at this,” she said pointing to a red stain on Kara’s sheet.

Pulling back the sheet and rolling up Kara’s pant leg Carolyn saw a deep Z shaped gash just below Kara’s knee. “This wasn’t here when I examined you.”

“It’s started,” Baylee said.

“Right,” Carolyn said, reaching for a swab. “I don’t think it will need stitches. Just some butterfly clips and a small bandage.”

“I didn’t even feel it. If that’s all I have to worry about then this isn’t going to be any worse than a night on ambrosia.”

Helo burst into the room. “Doctor we have a message coming through the Gate that you need to hear.”

“Just give me a minute.”

“They don’t have a minute.”

Baylee took the swab from Carolyn’s hand. “I can do it.”

Carolyn nodded before following Helo out.

“How did this happen? Originally I mean.” Baylee asked as she gently wiped away the blood.

“Do you know how many times I’ve cut my leg? It could be anything.”

“It’s a distinctive shape. Want to try that answer again?”

Kara smiled for the first time since waking up. “It could be from when I was a kid. A friend and I were trying to take a short cut home to make it back before curfew. But there was a storm and the little stream in the park behind us turned into a raging river. We did what kids do and tried to cross it. We got swept away. I cut myself on a rock or something right before I slammed into a concrete pylon and got knocked out. End of story.”

Baylee pulled out a handful of butterfly clips from the draw. “End of story, nice try Kara. You forgot two things. One, I know exactly what sort of wounds are triggered by the machine and two.” She looked up to lock eyes with Kara. “You forgot how much time I’ve spent around soldiers. I know that when you’ve seen too many things you get used to lying about them. So whats the rest of the story?”

“I thought this was supposed to be about internalized pain. The cut didn’t hurt”

“Don’t play dumb with me. You know there’s more to it than that. How old were you?”

“About ten I think.”

“What was your friend’s name?”

Kara scrunched the sheet in her hand until her knuckles turned white. “Amos Ranteck. He called me Race and I called him Teck.”

“Did he get hurt?”

“He didn’t make it. I got lucky I got pushed to the edge that’s why I hit my head and someone got to me a pulled me out.”

“It must have been hard to lose your friend in an accident like that.”

“It wasn’t as accident,” Kara whispered, biting down on her bottom lip. “I let go of his hand. I had him. He was right behind me.”

“Kara you can’t blame yourself if you were knocked out.” After placing the last clip Baylee took Kara’s hand forcing her to let go of the sheet.

“The wasn’t when I let go. When I hurt my leg I let go. He got dragged under. They didn’t find his body for two days. So there you have it. Now can I have some time alone?” Kara pulled her hand away.

“The only good thing about the Fracas machine is it gives people the chance to gain insight into events that changed their lives.”

“There’s no insight necessary, he died and it’s my fault.”

“I could give you a detailed account of involuntary actions and reflexes but I don’t think you’d hear me. Kara when I was trying to figure out if I could trust you I asked Lieutenant Tanner about you. He said you walked to the beat of your drum and that’s why he loved working with you. I know I haven’t known you long but I get the feeling even as a kid you surrounded yourself with people like you. People who did their own thing.”

“I guess.”

“So Teck did his own thing right? He didn’t let anyone tell him what to do?”

“Pretty much.”

“So you didn’t tell him to get in the water?”

“No.”

“It was his choice.”

“Yeah but I was a better swimmer.”

“Do you think he was thinking about that when he decided to try to cross?”

“No we were thinking his dad and my mum would kill us if we were late again.”

“He was more afraid of his dad that the water?”

“Yeah.”

“If you said you were taking the long way round would it have stopped him?”

“Probably not.”

“So he was going in whether you were there or not?”

“I…”

“It’s a yes or no question.”

“Yes.” Kara moved her hand back towards the edge of the bed. Her little finger resting against Baylee’s.

“How are you doing Kara?” Carolyn asked as she walked back in.

“I hate to admit it but probably better than I was a minute ago.”

“You’ve had medical training right?” Carolyn asked examining Baylee’s handiwork.

“Well I’m a medical engineer and researcher but I started out a medical student.”

“Good. Kara SG3 is in trouble on x45713 I need to go help them,” she said, packing up some equipment. “I’ll leave as much supplies as possible and be back as soon as I can. Take a look through these.” She handed a clipboard to Baylee. “I wrote down all Kara’s baselines so you know what’s normal for her.”

“Does Sam have to go too?” Kara asked.

“Not at this stage. I’ll get Sam to give my updates every hour. I’m sorry Kara.”

“It’s fine, go.”

Kara studied Baylee’s face as she perused the file left by Carolyn. To Kara the secret weapon against PTSD didn’t seem to be the Fracas machine it seemed to be Baylee’s brown eyes. Her soft yet unflinching gaze made Kara feel like there was a chance Baylee wouldn’t look at her differently after she told the truth. Kara had never told anybody about what happened to Teck. She’d told Lee and Admiral Adama about Zac’s death. She’d stood at funerals for pilots that had died trying to carry out her orders. But she’d never felt as guilty as the day she watched Teck’s coffin being lowered into the ground.

She did feel different but she wasn’t sure if it was a good thing or a bad thing. Just different. She knew she wasn’t lucky enough for this to be all she would experience. There was more pain to come. She was sure. There was always more pain to come.

Chapter 3

Standing by the door to the multipurpose infirmary Sam put her hand up to shield her eyes from the sun. The intensity of the closest star to the Delta site was just one more thing she hated about the dusty planet.

“I think something’s wrong with Caroline’s radio,” Sam said, as Helo approached her. “We should have some spares if I can’t fix it.”

“There’s nothing wrong with her radio Colonel. She’s not here, that’s why you can’t reach her.”

“What do you mean not here?”

“There was a situation with SG3 that she needed to help with.”

“I can’t believe she just left without talking to me first.” Sam heard the whine in her own voice. She thought she’d never sounded less like an officer in the US Air Force and more like a two year old throwing a tantrum.

“You were checking on the geology team. She didn’t have time.”

“What about Kara?”

“She put Baylee in charge of looking after Kara and she wants to be updated every hour.”

“Every hour. How long does she think she’s going to be gone?”

“She said she’d let us know once she’s done triage.”

“Oh frak me.” Sam heard the strangled cry and ran toward Kara’s bed. Pulling back the curtain she saw Kara cradling her hand.

“Kara what is it?” Sam reached out to touch her but Kara pulled recoiled as if she’d been punched.

“Don’t’… It’s about to get worse.” Kara cried out again as her hands feel to her lap swollen and bruised like she’d been in a brutal fight with a brick wall.

“What happened to your fingers Kara?” Sam asked again.

“Well.” She sucked in a breath as she wiggled each finger in turn. “Caroline will be pleased. Those calcium tablets she’s been forcing on me seemed to be working.”
“What do you mean?” Helo asked.

“There’re not broken. Fraking sore but the machine didn’t make my body remember to break my bones again.”

Baylee gently lifted Kara’s hand and took a closer look. “Helo I’m going to need some extra tape. I think I saw some in the office. It doesn’t matter if its not surgical.”

“Sure.”

“Colonel can you get me some ice we need to get the swelling down.”

Sam narrowed her eyes but nodded.

Baylee waited for them to leave the room before talking again. “So the first time this happened you broke a bone on all your fingers?”

“Yeah, that’s what happens when you get a door jammed on them.”

“Someone slammed your fingers in a door?”

“I didn’t say that.”

“Since it’s both hands, you didn’t do it to yourself.”

“That’s not what the person who did it would say.” Kara squeezed her eyes shut as Baylee pressed down of the taunt and tender skin. “He would say it was all my fault. He was probably–”

Helo walked back in followed by Sam who was carrying the bin she’d knocked over earlier full of ice with two tea towels over her shoulder.

“How did this happen?” Sam asked.

“I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Kara, come on.” Sam was tried not to take offense at the way Kara seemed to soften when she looked at Baylee and bristle when she looked at her.

“I said I don’t want to talk about it,” Kara said through gritted teeth.

“Could you guys give me some space while I work on Kara hands?” Baylee said.

“I can help,” Sam pleaded. She thought she’d seen every shade of Kara’s emotion wheel but the look Kara was giving her was so unfamiliar. She didn’t know if she should force Kara to talk or give her the space she obviously wanted. Not that long ago she would have known instinctively how to help but with so much time apart their connection seemed so fragile and intangible. Where there had once been a rope binding them together there was no only a thin fraying thread.

“I’ll let you know if I need any help,” Baylee replied.

Grabbing Helo by the arm Sam pulled him outside. “Do you know how this happened?”

“Not a clue, sorry.”

“I’ve got to find a way to make this stop. What if I paid a visit to Doctor Apresso?”

“The Gate’s heavily guarded. We only got out because they were responding to the explosion. If we go back we’d be arrested on the spot.”

“Fine, I’m going to talk to some people about getting a ship,” Sam said stalking off.

****

“I understand you not wanting to tell them,” Baylee said. “It’s often harder to tell people who care about you about traumatic events. But tell me I don’t have to give you the speech about why it’s better to talk about it now that this process has started?”

“Are you saying you don’t care?”

“You know that’s not what I meant.” Wisps of Baylee hair fell across Kara’s arm as she wrapped Kara’s fingers. “Start talking Kara.”

“I was about thirteen I think. I know it was summer that’s why it happened. We were in the longest heat wave in recorded history. My mum was off on a bender somewhere. She would disappear for weeks. This time my teachers found out and I got sent to stay with my grandfather. He let me take my dog Ruff.”

“Dog?”

“Four legged animal. It’s a pet. On Earth they call them man’s best friend. Granddad wouldn’t let him in the house or even under the house. He was tied up out the back, in the sun. He kept digging holes to try to get cooler. I kept trying to patch them up before Granddad got home but he knew. He said if he did it one more time he would kill Ruff. He meant it. So when Ruff dug another hole I decided to try to keep him safe. I put a bone in my backpack and walked for half a day, gave Ruff the bone and went back before granddad got home. I told him the dog ran away. He didn’t believe me.” Kara was surprised how easily the words were tumbling out. “He wanted me to tell him where Ruff was. When I didn’t he put my left hand in the door jam and slammed the door.” Kara looked at her hands with wide eyes as if she was seeing the damage for the first time. “He said after that I told him where Ruff was. I don’t remember saying the words. Then he put my right hand in the door jamb. He said this one was for taking so long to tell him.”

“Is that when you passed out?” Wrapping up the ice in the tea towels Baylee tied it around Kara’s hands.

“I guess, I don’t know. I actually woke up in hospital. I was in and out of it for awhile. Turns out I had heat exhaustion as well as busted fingers. They found my mum and I got to go home.”

“You understand what your Grandfather did to you is not your fault?”

“I didn’t say I thought it was my fault. The man was fraked in the head.”

“I just want to make sure you understand that no one deserves that.”

Kara shrugged her shoulders.

“Did anything happen to your Grandfather because of what he did to you?”

“I don’t know. I doubt it.”

“Did you find Ruff?”

“No and I never asked my grandfather, I didn’t want to know. But… Death follows me.”

“Death follows you?”

“Look, I now you probably want to get more out of me but my headache’s not so bad now and I need to get out of this bed for a while.”

“You can’t be alone,” Baylee said, gently grasping Kara’s arm to help her up. “But a short walk and some fresh air might do you some good.”

Leaning heavily on Baylee Kara took a tentative step. She wanted to run but even if she could she didn’t think there would be a point. Death wasn’t just following her it was seeping into every pore, saturating her with darkness and guilt. The pain in her fingers and twinge in her leg as she walked reminding her of the lives cut short because they had the misfortune of knowing her. Given that, she knew it was selfish and greedy to want Sam in her life. She assumed Sam had weighted the risk for herself and that’s why she was moving to Atlantis.

Chapter 4

“There you are,” Sam said, as she entered the mess hall. “Should you be out of bed?”

“Here I am,” Kara said, sipping from a mug. “And yes I should,” She was slumped in her seat with her back turned to the geological team sitting in the corner.

“Where’s Baylee?”

“Helo came to get her to give Carolyn an update.”

Sam brought Kara’s mug up to her lips before she realized it wasn’t coffee.

“Kara should you be drinking?” Sam said putting down the mug as far away as she could.

“Well, the swelling’s going down so holding a cup doesn’t hurt too much.”

“Where did you even get that?”

“Didn’t you know? Alcohol is the first thing I go looking for on any new planet. Guess that’s why I’m only on SG 12.”

“I don’t think you should be drinking.”

“That’s fraking priceless. You take a job in another galaxy,” Kara reached for the mug, sloshing the amber liquid as she brought it closer. “Are you’re going to check in to give my orders.”

“That wasn’t an order,” Sam said, looking over her shoulder at the geological team.

“No. It was just perfect little Colonel Carter embarrassed by her frak up girlfriend.”

“I’m never embarrassed by you. I’m just worr—”

“Oh gods,” Kara moaned, her mug fell to the floor splitting into tiny projectile pieces. Clutching her stomach Kara fell forward landing in Sam’s arms.

“Kara what is it?”

“I can’t let them do this,” Kara muttered. Her hand dropping from her stomach revealing a blood stained shirt.

“Captain Wallberg get over here now,” Sam ordered. “Help me get her to the infirmary. Doctor Ashington get to the Gate and tell Helo and Baylee to come back her on the double. Kara’s in trouble.”

“There’re Cylons all of them,” Kara said as Sam lay her back in bed.

“It’s her stomach,” Sam said, as Baylee and Helo entered.

“Oh frak,” Helo said.

“You know something about this?” Sam asked.

“Well it looks like where Kara got cut open by the Cylon doctor back on Caprica.”

“Cut open?” Sam repeated.

“When she was at the processing hospital. They did something to her, knocked her out and when she woke up she had stitches right where that cut is now.”

“Oh god,” Sam said. “When I asked about that scar she just said she got it bringing back the arrow. I thought she meant in a fight with one of the cylons.”

“Kara did take out Cylons with her bare hands. But this fight wasn’t a fair one.”

“Don’t let them do it again,” Kara said. Her eyes darting around the room as if it was full of enemies.

“Okay everybody out. I need to examine this wound,” Baylee said.

Sam didn’t argue this time. She didn’t want Kara to see the tears she couldn’t stop from falling.

“Kara. I’m going to give you a local anesthetic. Because of the way the Fracas machine works I’m not sure it will work but this will need stitches.”

Kara didn’t react to the injection or give any sign that the anesthetic hadn’t worked . If her mind was somewhere else Baylee had no intention of forcing her back to reality as she stitched the wound. Her skills were rusty enough without worrying if she was causing Kara more pain. But if Doctor Apresso had taught her anything it was that healing required more than stitches.

“Who are the Cylons Kara?” Baylee asked. Finished with the rough but effective stitches she placed a bandage over the wound.

“You don’t want to know,” Kara replied, pushing down her shirt.

“Helo said they did something to you.”

“They did something to all of us.”

“This was a surgical cut.”

“You’re right. This one isn’t some deep frakked up childhood shit. This,” she said, pointing to the wound. “Is war.”

“The Colonel has gone to see when Carolyn is coming back,” Helo said, as he striding back into the infirmary.”How’s she doing doc?”

“The cut will heal.”

“Did I say I was sorry Helo?” Kara asked.

“What for Starbuck?”

“Back on Caprica…I didn’t save those women. I just got myself out… I didn’t save any of them.”

“The way I heard it you did save them. You set them free.”

“What about what they were taking from them. What they took from me. If they were making…If they were trying to create…I didn’t stop that.”

“You can’t think like that. It’s not on you. Its all—” Helo was interrupted by the crackle of his radio.

“Karl I need you to get to the Gate now.” Sam’s voice came over the radio. “I’m sending you to help Carolyn.”

Helo looked at Kara.

“Its okay, go,” she said.

“Yes Colonel. On my way.” Helo put a hand on Baylee’s arm. “Take good care of her.”

“I will.”

“You’ve got a lot of people who care about you,” Baylee said as Helo left the room at a jog.

“They care about Starbuck…They don’t really know Kara.”

“Yeah and you like it that way. Keep them away with your big dark brooding cloud of doom.”

“What would you know  about anything dark or brooding.”

“You should know better that to presume. I know what it’s like to feel like your drowning and nobody even notices. I know what it’s like to feel like there’s only darkness inside. I even know that you think you deserve all this.”

“How would you know that?”

Baylee put a hand on the side of Kara’s face. “I see it in your eyes.”

Neither women heard Sam walk up to the curtain. They carried on oblivious to Sam’s silent observation.

“How do you know I haven’t done things to deserve every fraked up thing that happens to me?” Tears welled in Kara’s eyes. “How do you know I haven’t done fraked up things to every single person I ever met?”

“I see it in your eyes,” Baylee said, wrapping her arm around Kara. She held on as tight as she dared and waited until Kara returned the hug. This time there was nothing between them, no P-90 of flak jacket, no awkward nervousness. Not even the truth separated them. Baylee stoked a hand down Kara’s back as quiet sobs racked her body.

Kara wished she had the energy to push Baylee away or hide the pain. But she couldn’t rebuff the life line out of the darkness drowning her.

 

Sam didn’t know how much she truly loved Kara until the moment she made the decision to stay on the other side of the curtain. Resisting the urge to march Baylee back to the Gate and throw her back to her own world. She loved Kara enough to push aside her own selfish desire to be there for Kara. To be the only one Kara turned to. She pushed aside her jealousy and anger to just stand still. If she couldn’t help Kara then she couldn’t take away the one person who could. Even though her heart was breaking for Kara and for what it meant for their relationship she could put her love for Kara first.

She wasn’t sure how long she stood there before Baylee pushed back the curtain. Baylee didn’t look surprised to see Sam standing there. Without explaining herself Sam motioned her head towards the office. Her steady gaze making it clear she expected Baylee to follow.

“How’s she doing?” Sam asked.

“Sleeping. It’s the best thing for her right now.”

“Is it over?”

“I’m afraid not.”

Sam raked a hand through her hair in a very Kara like manner. “She lets you in,” Sam said, just above a whisper.

“Actually, I push my way in.”

“She trusts you.”

“She clearly loves you.”

Sam raised an eyebrow. “Right now, I’m not so sure.”

“The middle of the infliction process isn’t the time to analyze your relationship.”

“You think I don’t know that. I don’t need relationship advice or any other advice from you since you are the reason we are in the middle of this process,” Sam said before stomping out of the room.

Chapter 5

Ignoring the pile of mission requests she was supposed to prioritize while she was at the Delta site Sam went back to the infirmary. With Kara still asleep she quietly took a seat and rested her head on the bed. Her silent tears dampened the sheet. Hearing Kara stir Sam looked into her eyes hoping to see red lines snake across her eyes telling her it was over. Instead she saw eyes clouded by pain.

“I’m so sorry I brought you into this universe,” Sam said. I was trying to get out there to protect you. I thought I had to do everything to make it safe for you.”

“I don’t need protecting.” Kara sat up and placed a bandaged hand on the nape of Sam’s neck. “Honestly, I didn’t think I needed anything until I met you. I hate myself for it…. but I need you.” She brought her other hand up to cup Sam’s face. “I don’t want to go back to being alone. I’m not running. For once in my fraking life I’m trying not to run from a good thing. But it feels like you are.”

“I know. I was wrong for spending so much time away. That’s why I took the job on Atlantis. I took it—”

Throwing her head back Kara let out a tormented scream before collapsing forward, her body awkwardly folded like a novice yoga participant. Sam watched in horror as gashes opened up on Kara’s arms and back as if an invisible attacker was slicing her skin. Sam sat motionless as Carolyn came rushing in.

“Kara,” Carolyn said. “You need to tell me what I’m looking at so I can help you.”

“Its glass…glass cuts,” Kara whispered.

“How did you get them. There’re all over your back?”

“Bar… Fight,” Kara said between involuntary moans. “I… got thrown backwards through… a window.”

“Okay Baylee, help me out here. I’ll handle the cuts on her lower back you start on the shoulder region.”

Sam hadn’t even noticed Baylee and Helo were in the room until now.

“Helo do you know about this one?” Sam asked.

“She’s been in hundreds of bar brawls. It’s not exactly unusual or traumatic for Kara. Its how she used to express emotion.”

“I heard that,” Kara said. “You can all stop looking at me like a wounded puppy. This one’s not a secret anymore.” She blew out a deep breath as Carolyn started to clean the gashes. “After Zac died I went to the roughest bar I could find, chose the biggest guy and picked a fight.” She screamed again as another wound opened up on her chest.

“Sam, more swabs,” Carolyn ordered. “Baylee get a local anesthetic ready. We’re both going to have to start stitching.”

Sam stood vigil but gave them the space they needed to work. It seemed to take them forever to make the bleeding stop. She looked away from the pile of bloody swabs on the floor.

“Kara this wound at the front,” Baylee said. “If you were pushed back into the window how did you get one at the front?”

“I guess I rolled over before I passed out. I was also extremely drunk so anything could have happened?”

“Yes but…”

“Baylee, let someone else fill you in on the Zac story. Ask anyone here they all know.”

“Now’s the best time to talk about this.”

“Let this one go,” Kara said.

“I can’t.”

“She said let it go,” Sam said, stepping closer to the bed.

“Let’s just give Kara a minute,” Carolyn said before dragging Baylee and Helo out of the room.

Sam gently traced the outline of the bandage on Kara’s chest. “That must have hurt.”

“Not really, like I said I was very drunk.”

“Do you want me to let it go too?”

Kara looked at Sam for a long time before answering. “I did it to myself,” she said quietly. “I walked into the bar hoping to get somebody angry enough to…End it”

“End it?”

“To end me. I passed Zac. He died. I wanted to die too. The window was a good start but I landed on the side walk still alive. So I picked up a piece of glass and…”she looked Sam in the eye, tilting her chin, defiance radiating from her gaze.

Sam felt as if she was being dared to hear more. “You stabbed yourself with the glass?”

“I was weak from blood loss I couldn’t go very deep. I was about to try again when I passed out.”

“Kara I don’t blame you for feeling that way.”

“You understand?”

“Of course, why wouldn’t I understand why you were feeling that way after what you went through?”

“I just assumed you’d think it was weak or cowardly or that I should’ve done a better job of ending it.”

“You’re the strongest, bravest person I know and if you weren’t here I don’t know what I’d do…” Sam stopped for a moment. “Carolyn, Baylee get back in here,” Sam yelled. Turning to Baylee she asked. “Please tell me her eyes mean this is going to stop.”

Leaning forward Baylee smiled. “Yes it is. Which means it’s time for me to go,” Baylee said.

“You’ll be arrested,” Kara replied.

“Yeah and this will be a high profile arrest so there will be a lot of attention on me. I have to get back to tell them why I did it. I can’t let him control what the public knows any longer. I can’t give him any longer to spin the truth. Blowing up the machine was only supposed to be step one.”

“I’ll wait outside,” Sam said.

“So.”

“I.” Both began at once. “You first,” Baylee said.

“So this was really, really fraked up. Beyond fraked up. But you were there and got me through.”

“I’m sorry there was something to get through.”

“I know you are. It was my choice to help you and even after going through it I really mean it when I say I’d do it again. I can see how the Fracas machine works. I can see how it gets results, especially on screwed up people like me. But it’s an even more screwed up way to get those results.”

“I think I’ll use that line. Anyway… I’m pretty sure you’re as hopeless at goodbye’s as I am so I’m just going to go. But don’t think you’ve seen the last of me… I’ll find a way back into your life. You’ll see.”

“I don’t doubt it for a second.”

“Right then. I’m going.” Baylee stood but didn’t move, leaning forward she kissed Kara lightly on the cheek. “See you soon Kara Thrace.”

“See you soon Baylee.”

“I’ll walk you to the gate,” Sam said, as Baylee walked out the door. Putting her cap and sunglasses on they walked in silence to the Stargate.

Sam stopped at the DHD and nodded to Lieutenant Tanner who was on guard at the Gate. “If that’s what you had to see everyday then I understand why you wanted Kara’s help.”

“Thank you for saying that. I know I don’t have to say take care of her.”

“No you don’t.”

“Then I’ll just tell you that I’ll make sure what Kara just went through is worth it. I’ll make sure no one ever has to go through it again.”

“Good luck,” Sam said, before turning away. “Go ahead, dial it up,” she ordered Tanner. She heard the whoosh of the Gate and couldn’t resist turning around to watch Baylee step through. She decided as she walked back to the infirmary it was okay to be selfish and want Kara to herself again.

****

“You know you’re going to have to take off all your clothes,” Kara said as Sam walked over to the bed in the infirmary.

“Here?”

“Well we’re going to have to go over the story of every scar on your body. Just in case this sort of thing happens to you. It will save us a lot of time.” Grabbing Sam’s arm she pulled her down for a kiss.

As soon as their lips met Sam felt their tenuous connection start to rebuild as if the frayed edges were being cauterized and the fabric rewoven.

“Before we do anymore of that,” Sam said, pulling back from temptation. “I need to tell you the reason I accepted the post at Atlantis. It’s a great opportunity for me but the reason I said yes is because they need more pilots. I said I’d only take it if you got reassigned. There you get the chance to be both. Go on away missions and be a pilot. It’s not a viper but we’re working on some ancient hybrids that might be more exciting for you.”

“Don’t you need the gene to fly them?”

“That’s another reason I want you there and Helo and any of the other Galactica crew you want. Every one of you has the gene.”

“The Galactic crew have the ancient gene?”

“Yes. Actually everyone from the twelve colonies does. Somehow I think it might turn out that Atlantis is more your home than ours.”

“Does that mean the ancient’s were…”

“Maybe it’s not Earth you were looking for maybe the 13th colony left Earth for Atlantis.” Sam reached into her pocket and pulled out Kara’s pilot wings. “I was keeping these in a safe place.”  She placed them in Kara’s hand. “I’m not going to do it unless you come with me.”

Kara’s eyes sparkled for the first time since arriving at the Delta site. “You’ve seen a lot, done a lot, but you don’t lie about it, you don’t let it turn you dark inside. It changes you but in a good way and somehow you don’t seem to care that I’m the complete opposite.”

“Kara I’m not—”

“What I’m saying is you’re stuck with me. So yes I’ll go to Atlantis with you.” Kara  pulled Sam down for another kiss. “I was serious about the getting naked part. I’ve got Helo on rack time watch for the next hour.

“You ordered him to keep watch so we can get naked?”

“Well since I’m covered in bandages it’s just you getting naked and he knows this is the price you pay for saving my life.”

“Well I guess if it will save us time in the future I really should.” Sam said as she took off her t shirt.”

Sam was pleasantly surprised how well her selfishness was paying off.

The End

 

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