He's so sure he hears his name – in a woman's voice – that he turns, toothbrush held by his mouth, and goes completely still to listen.
After a minute of silence he shakes his head at himself and turns back to the sink to finish brushing. He hangs the toothbrush up, closes his medicine cabinet, and gets halfway to his bed, yawning, before he hears it again: the same female voice calls his name, and unless he's imagining it – of course he's imagining it – she sounds marginally less patient but definitely more amused.
He comes to an abrupt halt right there in the darkness of his room, listening once again. His heart wants to start pounding; he knows no one should be here, and the voice doesn't sound familiar.
The air conditioning is off. All the windows and doors are closed. The television isn't on any more.
Raking a hand through his hair, he purposefully relaxes his shoulders and starts to think maybe he shouldn't be so stubborn and single-minded. He's gotten in late every night for the last two weeks, woken up early, and gone straight back to the lab. No guitar. No playing ball. No seeking out anyone's company beyond lunch-time.
He's never been that big on all work and no play, so maybe his brain has decided to give him a kick in the ass about it. Shedding his jeans, he crawls into bed, and once he's there he pulls the sheet up to about waist-level. His eyes close immediately, and around him the room is quiet.
The whole house is quiet.
Within minutes he's sound asleep.
Morning arrives, heralded by sunlight slanting in through blinds he hadn't bothered to close the day before, and he rolls onto his side, shunning the uninvited wake-up call, but opens his eyes immediately when he bumps into something that shouldn't be there.
Someone who shouldn't be there.
Her hair is blonde and straight and about shoulder-length; her eyes are flecked brown and green. The incoming light falls in stripes across her white t-shirt and sheet-clad hips. She squints against the glow of morning and licks her lips like they're dry, but she doesn't seem able to resist smiling at him. "You have got to remember to close those blinds at night."
If he saw her elsewhere she'd catch his interest and turn his head; as it is, somewhere along the way he's forgotten how to blink and breathe.
Her fingertip perches on his lips even though he has yet to manage words incredulous enough for the situation. "Sam, over the next six weeks I'm gonna need you to listen to me. This is very important."
Her finger doesn't move. "Let's save that one for later. We don't have a lot of time."
"I need a day off."
As Galen enters the room, Tory looks up and slides her bookmark between pages. "Then take it." Her tone is matter-of-fact but not unkind.
"I think I will."
That was her advice, but it still surprises her that her hard-working Galen has reached a point where the suggestion meets immediate agreement rather than a list of reasons he needs to spend his time working. Once she puts her reading material down on the table in front of her she stands and walks toward him, hands rising to frame his face. "You really aren't feeling well."
He dips his chin and leans to rest his forehead against hers. "Maybe I'll take tomorrow off, sleep in, walk to the park to get some fresh air in the afternoon."
His seriousness takes her off guard, and looking up at him, she nods. "That's a good idea." Her hands drift down his face and take up residence on either side of his neck. "Should I cancel the tasting?
That's right: tomorrow they're supposed to meet with the people catering their reception. He shakes his head. "I'm not sick enough to turn down a free meal."
Tory raises her eyebrows and smiles her appreciation at him. "Tomorrow morning I'll let the others know you're feeling under the weather."
It's not the first time Galen's thought he's the luckiest bastard on Earth. He's glad Sam – no offense to him – didn't hit it off better with Tory two years ago when he had his chance. And really, he thinks, under the weather is a much better way of putting it than I think I'm overworked and starting to hallucinate. Tory is beautiful, a perfect storm of efficiency and competence, and he knows she's confident but he doesn't think she'd like hearing that he keeps seeing another woman, regardless of whether that woman is purely a product of his imagination.
"Do you ever--" Saul feels ridiculous, but marches on. "Have you ever imagined someone so vividly that you felt sure they were with you when they weren't?"
Her brief hesitation proves it's as stupid a question as he thought, but she laughs. "Oh, I've imagined you very vividly when you've been gone."
He tries not to let it, but the smile comes to his face so easily. "Do you ever think that vividly about other people? Other men?"
Beside him, she erupts in laughter again, turning over to face him, one elbow propped on her pillow. "Saul, Saul, what kind of question is that? I think about other men all the time. I think I wonder how Galen's feeling and one day Sam is really going fall in love and he'll do more than write songs for her and John has been so stubborn lately. But mostly," she adds, leaning in until her nose almost touches him, "I concentrate on when should Saul and I take another vacation? We're overdue, you know." Her hand pats his arm reassuringly. "I have had fantasies about other men, if that's what you're asking. It can be fun, but trust me: they never measure up." Her pat to his arm turns into more of an affectionate grope. "Haven't we been married far too long for this conversation?"
"I should've just said what I meant." Faced with her teasing, his smile is at risk of growing and his concern at risk of melting.
"Mm," she agrees, close enough that he can feel her own smile against his cheek. "I guess you should've."
"Listen, Ellen." He forces a more serious expression onto his face. "And don't think I'm frakking crazy," he adds impatiently. "I feel fine; I am fine." Beside him, he feels her drawing back enough to give him a good look, all of her attention focused on him. Every bit of it. "But I think something bad is on the horizon." He turns his eyes toward her. "We need to be prepared for it." He wants to call it a feeling, a hunch, but that isn't true. He didn't come up with this on his own.
Her good humor reluctantly fades. She can tell by the look in his eyes that a nod from her is the last reaction he expects, but what he's saying doesn't surprise her quite as much as he assumed it would. "You want to tell me what's on your mind, Saul?"
She'll open up if he does. If nothing else, he'll be relieved to learn that she's a step ahead of him when it comes to planning for future emergencies.
Kara Thrace is the single most beautiful sight Sam has ever seen, and that's saying something. She even has stiff competition today, walking through a forest that just hours ago was filled with Centurions but is now completely abandoned. That's almost as beautiful.
If they intended to stay here maybe it'd seem even more mind-blowing, but they're done living on this empty husk of Caprica. Their chances are better with the fleet – it'd be pretty frakking stupid to blindly trust the Cylons at this point – and he intends to follow Kara straight back to her battlestar.
She came back for them.
She came back for him.
The truth is she should look kind of funny in that helmet of hers, but frak if he doesn't look at her and honestly, sincerely, undeniably think he has never seen anything better. She wants to wrap him in the best bear hug of his life? He'll take it. She wants him to agree to shoot her rather than see her go to another farm? He'll agree to it.
But he may have to revisit the thought if Cylons become an imminent danger again.
Their injured are loaded into ships first, and already he feels tension easing out of his shoulders as though the sunlight is sluicing some of his responsibility away. His people are still looking to him and he's still steering them as best he can, but Kara's in charge here. She knows what they need to do, where they need to go, how to get them all back in as few pieces as possible.
And she's one leader he doesn't mind following. Helo and Athena board their Raptor first with Jean right behind them, and he climbs up onto the wing, his hand automatically reaching for Kara's like this hotshot pilot could possibly need his help to do something she's done hundreds of times before. But she claps her gloved hand with his, takes the assist, and spares a moment to grin widely at him once she's stepped up.
She's golden, and only partly because she's bathed in sunshine. She's a solar flare, a supernova, and that minute – that perfect minute – burns into his memory. Pure instinct leans him forward to kiss her, and her gun and helmet make it interesting but he can feel her grinning against his lips and he'd brave a frak of a lot more than guns and awkward helmets for it.
She raises her hand and rests it against the side of his face when they part. "Let's save that for later. I've gotta get your ass safely out of here first."
When Tory approaches Galen at Joe's Bar a day after the funeral he's in no mood to appreciate it. Seelix volunteered to babysit so he could have a few hours to himself, but he's had too much booze and knows it.
"Galen," Tory greets him from about two feet away, a look of mild concern marring the smoothness of her features.
"Hey." After a moment he gestures to the seat across the table from him.
She hesitates, then takes a step closer, her hands resting on the back of the chair. "How are you doing?"
"Well, I've gotten a crash course on how much being a single parent sucks, and I'm thinking of writing my memoirs. It worked for Gaius."
It's not like she expected any better, and to her credit she keeps herself from reacting much. What she did was done for all of them; he's mourning now, but would he have preferred Cally's betrayal? Having their secret spilled? Wearing a target on his back, courtesy of all his former friends? Losing his son? Cally was dangerous: at worst she would've told everybody what she knew; at best she would've flushed herself out the airlock with her child. Nicky had to be rescued. Only four people even know the boy is half-Cylon, and that's how it needs to stay for now. She remembers exactly what lengths she and Laura went to when they didn't want the Cylons – her people – to know Hera existed. "I doubt that's a good idea."
"You'd read it." He looks up from his glass, meeting her eyes for the first time since she approached. "You'd be too curious not to." Curiosity is exactly why she decided to hang out with him here a few times before Cally died. He'd felt like she wanted to spend time with him – maybe that she was even attracted to him – but he wasn't stupid enough to believe it was personal; after they all escaped New Caprica the two of them barely had anything to do with each other. She wanted his companionship because he's a Cylon, and isn't that rich.
"Maybe you should take some time off, sleep in a few mornings. Spend time with your son."
He doesn't want to talk to her any more. He looks at her and sees Cally, frustrated to the point of taking her own frakking life. He looks at her and sees Boomer, in tears as he tells her that she is a machine and he's not. He's lost a woman he loves twice now, one Cylon and one human, and regardless of what they were and what he is, he doesn't know what's worse: watching it happen or having to hear about it after the fact. "Yeah." He says it, but he doesn't feel it. "Maybe I should."
The new Earth is as vibrant and green as anyone could've hoped. There is nothing like walking through the tall waving grass with the sun warming their shoulders and fresh air filling their lungs.
The best thing about it, Saul knows on a gut-deep level, is that Ellen is right beside him, her hand in his and her face tipped up to admire the sky.
When she looks down she spots him watching her and smiles just for him. "Saul. I meant what I said."
"Which part?" There's a weight that hasn't yet lifted from his shoulders, but he still barely represses a smile. His wife says a lot of things, most of which she means passionately in the moment.
"Silly man." She eyes him, certain that he knows which part. "The part about wanting to be with you."
"I should hope so," he gruffly informs her, scratching his beard with his free hand. "You'll be seeing a lot of me around here."
Still smiling, she tugs him toward her by his fingers, and her hand coasts up to his wrist and then his forearm before grabbing his elbow. He may have changed, grown thinner and unshaven, lost an eye, learned a thing or two about love and loss, but he is the same Saul she's always loved. She pulls him in hard, and both of her arms wrap around his. "We've been married far too long for this conversation."
For once he has the distinct feeling that there's something beautiful lying ahead of them.