Title: What You Are
Word Count: 1103
Note: I owed this to ralst from forever ago. Battlestar Galactica FTW!
The wall was completely blank. The cool, simple metal curved up to meet the roof. There was nothing hanging on it, no marks made on it, nothing. But Starbuck was staring at a patch of wall six feet from the floor as if it held some kind of secret. It didn’t. She was drunk. Again. For days now, she’d been drinking almost continuously from a small silver flask, refilling whenever necessary from a still some of the nuggets had set up and thought was still hidden. It was two am. She was sitting. Drinking. And waiting.
The door to the mess opened and closed. A soft tap of shoes on the floor. A scrape forward, and then back, of the chair. Then, a smell. Same smell, ten days now. Feminine as hell. Not really right, considering. Starbuck reached into her jacket pocket and pulled out a shot glass. Past ten nights, she’d slide the glass across to her companion and they’d drink silently for hours, usually until Kara passed out on the table. They’d never say a word. There were definitely words that could be said. Hundreds. Thousands even. Tonight, Starbuck thought she might even use a few. She placed the shot glass on the table and instead slid the flask across the table to Six.
“No glass tonight, Kara?” “Nope.” “I feel almost welcome.” “Be my guest.” Six drank the almost toxic liquid, her tongue darting out to catch a stray drop. Starbuck looked away because, well, she was drunk, and that led to other things. Sweatier things.
“So why do we deviate from routine tonight?” Six asked in her calm voice. Always calm, even when there was plenty to scream about. Curious, in Starbucks’ opinion.
“I’ve been thinking.” Six waited for more of an answer. “About you.”
“You, as in Cylons,” the pilot clarified. “Can I ask you a question, Six?”
“The others call me Caprica.”
“Can I ask you a question, Caprica?” The Cylon motioned for her to continue. “You can feel love? Cylons, I mean?”
“Yes. Entirely.” Six looked at Starbuck questioningly as she processed the answer, clearly struggling to reconcile the idea of machines feeling anything, let alone love. “Do you really think that Samuel didn’t love you?” That seemed to decide it for Starbuck.
“I know he did. And he probably still does, as much he does anything at the moment.” Caprica unfolded her hands and placed them flat on the cool table, leaned back in her chair.
“Something is still troubling you.”
“Something you can’t talk about with those that you trust.”
“Then why do you wish to share it with me?” Caprica asked. Starbuck rubbed her temples violently, reached across for the flask and took a healthy swig.
“I don’t frakking know!” she erupted. Then, lowering her voice, she said, “Even though you’re a Cylon, you seem to… I don’t know… understand all this emotional crap.”
“This is true. It’s something that was intended.” They stared at each other silently.
“Since we all got back from Earth… I don’t know… It’s just, I…”
“You saw something that you haven’t shared with them, didn’t you?” Starbuck nodded.
“I saw me. In a viper. Burned and dead. I was standing right there, looking at me. My dog tags, my uniform, my body, my tattoos, dead. But I was there. So how could I be dead?”
“And now you don’t know what you are anymore,” Caprica said. “You do need to know that you are not a Cylon, Kara. But I can’t tell you what you are, because no-one can.”
“Did you love Baltar?” Caprica smiled regretfully, and reached for the flask.
“Honestly?” She drank from the flask. “No. My relationship with Gaius was a means to an end. He is an extremely intelligent and curious man, both egomaniacal and paranoid, but no, I did not love him.”
“It seemed as though you did.”
“Have you not known anyone to fake love, Kara?” The Cylon studied her intently, wordless yet echoing volumes. “Or is it that you have?” Minutes passed in silence.
“I think of all the people I have ever known,” Starbuck continued, “and everything I’ve felt for them… and there’s fondness, and respect, hate, shame, guilt, safety, admiration, lust, fear, pain… and all these things, but I don’t feel like I ever loved any of them.” Caprica lightly drummed her perfect nails on the table. Starbuck dropped her forehead down to the cool metal surface, muffling her next words, but not drowning them out. “What if I’ve never loved anyone my entire life? How is it fair that you machines get to feel that and I don’t?”
Starbuck didn’t hear the other woman get up, but suddenly her hand was on her shoulder.
“All those people you listed… what about Zak Adama?” she asked the question softly, as if she knew that Starbuck had left him out. The pilot raised her head and bit back tears.
“I did love him,” Starbuck whispered. “But then I killed him.” The hand moved from her shoulder to her cheek. “So maybe I decided I didn’t get to love anyone after that.”
“Do you know why I come here, Kara?” Caprica asked. “Because you are something different. You don’t reason or feel the same as the other humans. It’s endearing and fascinating.”
“We don’t even know if I am a human, remember?”
“But you know what you aren’t, and that helps you figure out what you are.” She paused. “For what it’s worth, I think you are human. Just part of a much bigger picture.”
“All I know is, I’m really drunk.” Starbuck sat straight up.
“Are you going to able to get back to your bunk?” Caprica asked. Starbuck shook her head.
“Take me to yours?”
Caprica’s eyebrows raised when she realized there was more to the request than sleeping off a month-long bender on rocket fuel and gods know what else.
“You don’t love me, Kara,” she said. “And I don’t love you.”
“But that’s not the only reason for two people to sleep together. You find me endearing and fascinating, remember?”
“And you find me…”
“Someone I trust.”
“Do you really trust me, Kara Thrace?”
“I do now.” Caprica smiled.
“And for the record, you’re hot as hell, you know that? Whoever decided that you should be one of the Cylon models knew their stuff.”
“You really are drunk.” Caprica helped the inebriated pilot to her feet. Their faces were within inches of each other. Their eyes met.
“And you really need to stop talking and kiss me,” Starbuck said. “Whenever you’re ready.”.