AUTHOR'S NOTES: Not much to say here-- after watching "Home, Part 2", my muse started caterwalling for this to be written. Obviously, there are spoilers for said episode. I'm a little worried about the quality, but this was burning a whole in my hard drive. Who knew my muse was a Tyrol/Sharon fangirl? (Actually, I think The Chief is just a cute puppy of a person, and she likes to kick him. ^^;) This ties in with my previous fic All Your Dreams Dismantled, but you don't have to read that to understand this one. ^__^ Any and all feedback will cause me to adore you forever, and possibly sacrifice goats for your future wellbeing. ^_~
Hold Fast 1/1
by Meredith Bronwen Mallory
Maybe it's because he was born and raised in the northern most city of Virgon, a place of murky twilights and achingly long winters, but Galen Tyrol has never had typical grasp of time.
(Be still and steady, soldier. Be silent.)
Each morning CPO Tyrol wakes to stare in the mirror and tell himself that time has not changed. A minute is a minute, an hour is an hour, though they weigh and drag endlessly for him. He shaves, eyes not on the movements of the blade, but on the brown orbs reflected back at him. The face, the shape of the jaw, the lopsided line of his nose. Broke the bridge playing pyramid ball, back in the days when he was all knees and elbows, jostling with the other players as students chatted, watched admiringly from the stands. He remembers how it felt, that sudden pain; how all the while he was going down, he was thinking. Mortified, terrified, embarrassed, blindly angered-- so many thoughts and emotions, like the intersecting lines of the court. Too many thoughts, for the mere five seconds it took for him to hit the pavement. He'd heard each of his heartbeats, then, with an immeasurable silence between them, becoming the markers not for moments or minutes, but for hours in which a larger teammate's form forced his own towards the ground.
It took so long, and then he woke in the hospital, his sister grinning over the bed rail and saying his face might actually have been improved.
He hasn't lost time, he's gained it, whether it's the hours of that fall, or the eons-- eternal snapshots-- that it took for her to step, so lithe and calm, out from behind that tree. He should be so much older, for the space he experienced then; his bones feel gnarled and changed under his still youthful face. It plays behind his eyes, all the time, how she seemed to come from the trees and the earth and the strange, heavy air of Kobol, stepping like one of the Lords from a shimmer of nothing and light. His hands had raised his gun, his voice had called to the Commander, but deep within his own mind he was still swimming towards reason, thwarted by the immeasurable cycles of moon and tide.
She's alive, he remembers thinking stupidly.
(Be silent, soldier. Hold fast, hold still.)
It's not until later that he questions his own wording, goes back over it like a schoolboy with his felt-tipped pen, wondering if he should have used the term 'alive'.
Did he watch Commander Adama pin her to forest floor? Take her graceful neck in two hands and squeeze? He must have. He'd wanted to step back so badly, to retreat, but the feeling at his back had been one of nothingness, as if he could step back and vanish, like the falling goddess for whose tomb they searched.
He thinks of Athena, down and down and down, her body one elegant arc, suggestive of flight. She falls, and he falls, and Sharon falls too-- down to the deck, perfect red circles in her stomach and chest. He holds her, watches the blood turn her uniform red, and he doesn't have the luxury of lengthened time before whatever passes for her heart shudders and lies still at last.
Going down, he thinks absently, and goes about discharging his duties-- organizing regular raptor checks, fixing the most difficult of malfunctions, delegating the rest. He's on top of his game; always is. Some technician said that, at the court-martial, looking at the military tribunal with that earnest face, so fresh he was green to the cut. On time for drills, on time for rotation, and he wonders if there's anyone holding faster than he. So tight that his whole body aches with it, that he wonders if he will ever be able to let go.
And, because he was never one for an abundance of cards or drinks, he isn't much missed off duty.
Not a day has passed since their return that he hasn't been to see her, and he hates it as much as he once ardently loved the Sharon who is gone. Pieces now, he thinks, picked apart by doctors and scientists, in little jars with perfect labels. Precise lettering. He has daydreams, moments of distraction whilst eating or tidying his bunk, in which he is privy to these macabre remains. He'll see her heart, suspended in whatever unpronounceable fluid; he'll put his fingers against the glass and trace the shape, wondering if it is anything like his own.
He surfaces from these thoughts and, though he has no outward reaction, there is nothing he would like more than to be violently, repentantly ill.
"Am I a vengeful person, do you think?" he asks her, fingers laced through the bars. There's glass between them, as in his awful daymares, but she is whole and real, eyes deep and desolate as dark, forgotten moons.
(Her eyes were so wide, almost childlike, when he grabbed her rounded shoulders and shook her hard. He recalls his rage with some disbelief now-- it's largness seems mythic, but it was so real then. He struck her, the sound still echoes now, and afterward she curled up in the corner, hands shackled so tight she couldn't even sleep.
He's afraid to ask if she remembers that, too.)
"All humans are vengeful," Sharon says thoughtfully, cupping her hand over the receiver. Long-fingers, deep-palms, hands he knows but has never touched. Her manner gives him a sense of intimacy, the way she whispers across the line, forehead resting on the glass. As if they're sharing secrets. "It's the way you're built." A pause. He hates this, but he keeps coming to see her, can't stop burning himself on the hot glass, trying to touch the flame inside. "My heart is the same as your heart-- four chambers, left side. I have lungs, and bowels, and I even sweat. And," she smiles a little, the mere quirk of her mouth, "I don't think you're more particularly vengeful than any other human." He never meant to tell her these things-- about the pieces of her counterpart, or the way a single thought will pound into his head until he can't think around it anymore. She invites his speech somehow, though, with the air of a confessor who will not judge. There are days when she's open about having memories not her own, a strangely coy marionette, and others where she only seems to want to pick up where
(Don't' think it, soldier. Easy now.)
the other Sharon left off.
He just wanted to watch her. He'd stand behind the mirrored glass and observe avidly, waiting for the facade to drop. Any moment now, hold your breath. There would be some sign, he was sure, some gesture that was off, and it alone would shatter the memory of her arms loosely around him, so soft voice saying, "It's good to see you, Chief." He watched until he began to feel like some type of artist-connoisseur, examining a painting for flaws. Original, or reproduction? Memory didn't serve: did her lips tilt just like that, or a little more? Was her voice just that cadence, and would his hands rest as comfortably on her slim, almost boney hips?
(Be silent. Hold still.)
He wanted to weight her, measure her, and it made him feel sick.
He talks to her now-- he thinks now that she was waiting for it. He tests her, questions her endlessly, inventing things, changing things, waiting for her to slip up. She corrects him easily, reordering, elaborating, always making him feel as if he is the one being scrutinized. She's patient and obliging, she listens to his grisly descriptions with an attentiveness that is more than polite. Round and round they go-- she's still on firm ground, but he's lost his footing, he knows. He feels the answer, somewhere underneath her almond skin, and wonders why she is the only one who makes him feel there isn't enough time.
What he wants is a reaction, worry or anger or tears. What he wants is something other than the merely friendly, measured dialogues. He wants the intimacy suggested by her whisper and her stance-- he wants to cut her open, crawl inside and *know*. For Helo, she will cry, or stroke the glass as if to reassure. For Helo, her voice has some unknown variable, something he had to miss to understand. His own feelings veer like some crazy pendulum, they arc and sputter, sizzle and die.
(Steady on, then.)
He wonders if he should be jealous-- he thinks she might know.
He watches them; watches the guards avert their eyes, watches the way people look at Helo when his head is down or he turns his back. Every moment has a weight, the possibility of carrying on forever. Time has changed; times have changed. In her tiny cell, Sharon sits curled up on the bed, eyes closed, hand over her still questionable heart. Feeling beats, anticipating breaths.
"What are you waiting for?" he asks.
Sharon's smile is theta-- unmeasurable, unknown. Eons at her fingertips, moments in her eyes.
She just says, "It's almost time."
Why, yes, I am a feedback whore. What makes you ask? ^_~