The story within this fic is based loosely on the Japanese legend, Kitsune No Hanayome (The Fox Bride). I hope it's not too confusing, but it demanded to be written just like this. *shrugs* Muses.
Thanks for reading!
Every Girl Who Shares My Face 1/1
by Meredith Bronwen Mallory
(This is a story, and so it is not real.
Once, long ago, when the Lords of Kobol still ruled in the flesh, there lived a young man named Methias. Both his parents died shortly after his seventeenth year but, being the sort more suited to his own company, Methias continued to live alone on his family's farm. Studious and hardworking, Methias rose each morning to walk the long road to the City of the Gods, where he was apprenticed to a metalworker. Despite his quiet nature, he was a kind man, and talented-- the metal worker had every confidence that Methias would one day take over the shop in his stead. Methias himself might have few words, but his creations spoke volumes.
It happened that Methias was returning from the City one day, when he heard a soft, distressed cry from the woods along the road. Climbing through the bracken, Methias discovered a young woman laying prone on the underbrush. She was robed in the dark blue of a farmer's daughter, and her dark eyes were wide as she looked on him, voice hoarse from sobbing.
A single, dainty ankle was trapped in a snare meant for a fox.)
They were both stationed aboard the Galactica for about a month before they truly met one another. Galen Tyrol noticed her, of course-- though at first it was not without a little frustration. Her landings were always heavy, leaving the undercarriage of her Viper scratched or dented, but she smiled apologetically as she dismounted, and that seemed to make it alright. He came to admire the way she handled her fighter, requesting rather than demanding that the massive machine bend to her will. She was kind to pilots and techs alike, if rather quiet. The silence appealed to him, though; he watched her surreptitiously, fascinated. Like a portrait of a beautiful ancestor, she seemed at once wonderfully familiar and untouchably distant. It was as if she didn't notice the small, subtle wall between her and the world-- if she did, she was only puzzled by it. Tyrol couldn't help but find this charming, too.
This is how they really met: He came into the common room, exhausted and more than a little annoyed with the events of his shift. He hadn't made CPO yet, and not all pilots were as easy with the techs as Sharon. Harried and angry with out direction, Tyrol's only intention had been to grab a beer (maybe even a cigar) and retire to his bunk. Across the room, Sharon was playing cards with a group whose faces Tyrol can now no longer-recall. 'All dead, most likely,' he thinks. It happened to a lot of people. Then, however, they'd all be young and alive, laughing as Sharon overbid and was forced to fold. She seemed to lose as often as she won, but she always came to try her hand again. She laid her cards down in frustration, rolling her eyes to the ceiling, and that was when she caught his gaze. She initial smile dimmed a bit in the face of his stormy expression, but called to him anyway.
"Tyrol, isn't it?" She pulled an empty chair towards the table. "Come play cards with us. They're going to need a fourth, now that I'm out."
"I--" he stopped, beer in one hand, feeling uselessly awkward. "I'm a tech," he said dumbly.
"So'm I!" said one of the other players.
"Come on," Sharon invited with a wave of her hand. "Play. There's no law against it. I'll even help you."
As it turned out, she gave terrible advice, but he stayed long into his evening break, enjoying the company.
(Methias was no medic, but he managed to free the maiden's foot from the snare. Her ankle was bloodied and badly wounded-- he torn part of his tunic to tie around it, and carried her back to the City, where she might be tended to.
"I can not thank you enough for your kindness," she said to him, propped up in the healer's bed. "I thought I would surely die. I was out in the woods hunting rabbits, but it seems I was caught myself. I insist you take my kills-- it's the least I can do to repay you."
Methias skinned and cooked her game, insisting in turn that she share in the meal. He sat by her bedside in the healer's lodge, and they talked long into the night.
"My name is Sune," said she. "My parents recently passed into the God's embrace and I, being the youngest sister, had no claim on possessions or property. I came here, in hopes of finding work." Methias, in turn, told her of his own loss, and of the trade he so dearly enjoyed.)
Even as friends, they had more than a few fights. Sharon didn't always understand his sense of humor; Tyrol often felt that she turned her gaze so inward that she ignored others, himself included. He couldn't help but be a little jealous when Lieutenant Agathon was assigned as her copilot; it seemed to make the difference in their stations all the more clear. He thought she probably only saw him as a friend, anyway, and that depressed him more than he liked to admit.
Sometimes, she came down to the docking bay, in the early hours of the graveyard shift, sitting on a crate or ladder and watching him feel along each craft for flaws and problems. She would hand him tools, watch as he went through simple procedures, and occasionally ask him to explain. Her interest flattered him, and he enjoyed their conversations, which seemed to be about nothing, and about everything, all at the same time. He wasn't certain what to call her-- Valleri was too impersonal, Sharon just the opposite. Her callsign seemed reserved for the ranks of pilots, but she asked him to use it.
"I like it," she said, resting her chin in her hand. "It's the truth-- I make an awful loud 'boom' when I land, don't I?" She laughed at herself then, and Tyrol smiled. The bright lights of the deck made her seem more vibrant than the rest of the room; she crouched so easily beside him while he worked with the belly of yet another ship. At the time, her hair was cut shorter-- a style he's heard referred to as 'page-boy', curling gently under just above her chin. He remembers looking up at her, seeing her dark eyes and the smudge of grease on her cheek and thinking, 'Yeah, I love her.'
And that was alright with him.
(Methias visited Sune almost daily while she healed. He brought her bits of city gossip, books, and whatever else he thought might interest her, eager to share her time. She disliked being cooped up inside, becoming restless and pale despite her healing ankle. He took to helping her outside, that she might sit in the shade of the lodge and enjoy the fresh air. Eventually, the bandages came off; she walked confidently, if a little slowly, on her own. For the first time, Methias realized his loneliness-- he feared the day would come soon when she would leave the City, to look for whatever farm would hire her as a hand. Unable to bear this thought, Methias one day caught her hand in his, throat constricting with his nervousness. He asked her, in a halting voice, if she might be his bride.)
It was on their way back from the movie-showing in the mess that Tyrol first kissed her. Stumbling together and more than a little drunk, they rested against the cool metal walls, laughing at the awful, low-budget fare they'd just seen. In between giggles, they recalled Starbuck's theatrical satire-- how she'd stood on top of the table and declared the whole thing an insult to humanity and a fatal detriment to morale. When they'd left, Starbuck had been mockingly repeating the worst lines, one of the techs accompanying her in a disturbing falsetto.
"Oh Lords," Sharon said, wiping tears from her eyes, "that was just awful. I think Commander Tigh chose that on purpose."
"He shouldn't punish us all on account of Starbuck," Tyrol teased. "I don't know how she gets away with the things she does."
"Some people just have a way." Gently, Sharon brushed a hand through his hair, face turning serious. "They're charming even when you're so pissed at them you can't see straight."
Caught off guard, he joked weakly-- "Like how I keep buying you drinks, no matter how many times I have to fix your damn plane?"
"You enjoy it," she returned, "it keeps you busy and off the streets." So quite she'd been, despite her flippant remark. They were leaning heavily on one another, Sharon's slight form pressing his own into the wall. She was only slightly shorter than he-- all she had to do was tilt her head up a little, and her lips touched against his, resting there, not moving. He'd wrapped her dog tags around his hand kissed her back.
("I will be your wife," Sune said into a silence that seemed filled only with Methias' madly pounding heart. "But you must do one thing for me. It may seem an odd request but, if you fulfill it and never ask me why, then I should be ever so happy to marry you."
"Anything," Methias swore with uncharacteristic fervor. "You have only to ask."
"Before I come to live with you in your house," Sune said carefully, "you must find every mirror that you own, no matter how large or small, and destroy it."
"It's a small thing," he replied, "it's nothing at all. I'll see to it right away.")
He loved Sharon first because she was his friend. He loved her for her smile, for her gentleness, for her determination, and for the vague undercurrent of strangeness that seemed to follow her where ever she went. Most of all, he loved her illogically-- because he could not help it, the very shape and feel of the word 'compel'.
They began dating in earnest. They still regularly drank and played cards with Helo and Racetrack, still accompanied the larger group to seedy bars on planet-side leave. At the same time, they snuck off to watch the impressive Picon sunrise out Galactica's main port; they wandered aimlessly through Caprica's Riverwalk Market, eyeing this and that. They went to the occasional game of Pyramid Ball, screaming themselves hoarse, often cheering for opposing teams. He bought her small gifts-- not jewelry of clothing, but tiny metal animals, a gun with a trinium handle, and a small, painted landscape of Troy she admired.
"Doesn't it upset you?" he asked as they stood in the shop on Caprica, idly meandering amongst the displays. She was tracing her fingers just above the glass, looking at the bleak lunar landscape, and the planet-rise of Arilon on the horizon.
"Because of the accident?" She looked at him for a long time. "No. I don't remember much about Troy, but I like this. It makes me feel closer to my parents. I'm not mad at them or anything. It's not as if they died on purpose."
She was not what his father would have called a "girly" sort. He could easily imagine her still in her gray tank-top, shirt, and flight-pants, hefting a baby on her hip. They began, haltingly, to talk of the future-- about a home, and a life beyond the military they currently served. Any of the colonies might have good work for a mechanic and a commercial pilot, and both had pensions coming in from nearly spotless service records. Quietly, he began to put aside a little money each month, trying to imagine their hands laced together, bound with matching rings.
Two weeks before Galactica was to be decommissioned, he took her home to meet his parents.
And then, everything went to hell.
(They lived together, Sune and Methias, for five long, happy years. Methodically, Sune began to bring the farm back into working order-- she loved nothing more than being outdoors, amongst the crops and animals she slowly coaxed to life. Methias took over the metalworker's shop when his master passed away, and word of his excellent craftsmanship soon spread beyond The City of the Gods. And, if Methias-- once never prone to illness-- found himself often sick or tired, then it must only have been the years he was gaining. Sune was always patient with him, nursing him back to health. Villagers remarked on how well she kept herself despite all the hard works she did, for she never seemed to age, or suffer from the maladies that lately befell her husband. She was healthy and robust and, if she never conceived, it must only be the will of the Gods.
Methias was happy in her company, having put away the dream of children, thinking only of spending his twilight years with Sune.
Then, it happened that a High Priest, one blessed to look upon the Lords of Kobol himself, traveled out from the city, and asked if he might lodge a single night on the farm.)
Now, when Tyrol tries to remember those aching, chaotic hours just after the Cylon attack, he finds only hazy images of panic. Faces, contorted in anger or fear or pain, the sound of sirens constantly grating in his ears. He worked a full thirty six hours without rest, running on adrenaline and disbelief, pushing himself and his crew so that Galactica might once again become serviceable. All the while, a strange, hysterical dirge pounded through his mind-- the faces of family, of friends-- as he tried to comprehend the ending of his world. Of every world.
They were all crazy, after the Fleet began its slow trek against the darkness of space. Crazy, and getting crazier still. Grief and denial ran hand in hand-- he and Sharon made desperate, rough love and lay, sobbing, together in a silence at once meaningless and profound. They asked him later if he noticed a change, but Tyrol maintains even now that Sharon was always just... Sharon. A little strange, perhaps, but it was a human strangeness, as if she was sometimes wide awake and dreaming. She grew up having to look out for herself, he pointed out. It wasn't odd that she had a little less ease in dealing with others.
At the same time, when he's tired or drunk enough to be honest with himself, he knows that she did change, just a little. It wasn't Cylon protocol taking over, or her personality altering, it was just fear, seeping in from her uncertain dreams, making every thought and action suspect.
He remembers the odd dignity with which she wore the bloodied bandage on her cheek. Everyone knew that wound was far too unusual for 'accidental weapons discharge', but she kept her head held high, as if such self infliction where her right.
Maybe it was. He doesn't know.
(When the High Priest came to ask for shelter, Methias did not think twice. He would not turn a servant of the Gods away from his house or his table-- he showed the man into his home, and then went out into the fields to inform Sune.
"What have you done?" she asked him, eyes wild with hurt. Taken aback, he had no words-- her reaction was so violent, for so inconsequential a thing. "I won't have him in my house!" she shouted. "You must send him away, right now."
Bewildered, he told her he couldn't-- he didn't wish to anger the Lords, or break the kindness he had offered to the old man. He pulled her towards the house, trying to show her there was no reason to be afraid. The priest was harmless.
"If you love me," Sune said bitterly, "you won't do this."
"Won't you tell me what's the matter, Sune? If you could just explain..." Uncomprehending, he watched the door open to reveal the old man. Sune made a low, sorrowful sound, and refused to look either man in the eye.
"She is afraid," the High Priest said. "She knew that, should I look at her even once, I would know the truth of what she is." From his voluminous robes, the old man withdrew a handled silver mirror. The very thing which Methias' wife had so curiously banished from their house. Cruelly, the priest grabbed Sune and held the mirror up to her face.
There, reflected in the glass, was the face of a cunning red fox.)
Tyrol remembers his cruelty to Sharon now-- remembers it, and is torn between self-righteousness and despair. Disgust. He thinks of her, laying on the cold deck, almond skin paling as blood fled her synthetic form. She looked up at him then, with those same dark eyes, and he'd seen that she expected nothing from him but rage and pain. Gone was the girl who'd so easily invited him to play cards, gone was the pilot determined to improve her skills. And still, she moved her dry lips to say her last words.
That she loved him.
The crew threw a party for Cally-- for the woman Tyrol sometimes privately thinks of as Sharon's murderer. He works with her, he manages to speak with her, but the young tech has been forever altered in his mind. He remembers her standing with Sharon once, perhaps it was at the decommissioning bash, holding up her glass and laughing with ease.
All that blood, and she hadn't even been sorry.
(In the moment of her discovery, Sune let out a low, terrible howl. Her form shook and splintered, shuddered and fell, until there was only the small, lithe body of a fox amidst her blue robes. The creature did not even look at Methias as it fled, so swift of it's four, dainty brown paws. It raced from the house and out across the lands it had once cultivated, out into the woods turned shadowy and dim by the setting sun.)
At the same time, Tyrol thinks, it doesn't seem real. Because there's another Sharon, Helo's Sharon, caged and aching down in the brig. She looks so small and fragile in the loose sweats she's been given-- he watches her shiver underneath the thin blanket, wavering between pity and fear. She knows his eyes are on her; she always seems to know, and rises, eyes carefully on his face. He talks to her, because he can't help it. He lets her voice flow over him through the wire and the glass, fingers twined in the fencing.
"Let me tell you a story," she says.
("Why are you crying?" the High Priest asked, watching Methias fall to his knees and gather up his wife's empty robe. "That creature was hiding in your home, stealing energy from you to maintain her illusion."
"Why did you do that?" Methias asked in return, voice hard and bitter.
"Because it was a lie! Didn't you want to know the truth?"
The young man wept. "No," he said. "No, I did not."
This is story, which means it isn't true.
Does that make you feel better? )
As always, feedback will leave me forever in your debt. ^__^