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Revelations of Divine Love

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She is not really his Six, the one he had bedded, the one who had saved his life and dissolved in the attempt. This is one of those things that Gaius Baltar waited to contemplate until there was no getting around it.

On a Cylon basestar, with no one left to lie to, there is time in abundance. They kowtow to him, tell him there are special prophecies about him, that he is God's chosen servant and they are at his command, but he doesn't do much.

So he thinks about his Six. The one who looks at him with eyes that are troubled and frightening. The one who fraks him with sensual precision but an almost-real dissociation that isn't helped by the way she looks at Boomer when they persuade her into their bad, like Boomer is real and Gaius is a bad dream. The one who is almost, but not exactly, quite unlike the one who whispered in his ear for nearly a year, the one who lingers in the corners of his perception, quiet and smiling and dreadful.

The Six who whispers to him in the darkness.

you don't love her, Gaius, because you don't know how.

He shifts in his sleep, pretending the arm around his waist doesn't feel like a lead weight, an obligation and not a pleasure.

if you could, you'd leave us for your own. wouldn't you?

Said whenever Baltar feels a moment's nostalgia for the regime of the little schoolteacher and the mediocre battlestar commander.

there are secrets that you want to know. don't think they're going to profit you, Gaius.

And that is the rub: he does want to know. He wants to know badly enough to finally address the voice in his head.

"Well, you seem rather done with me, darling," he says one afternoon, "So why not ask? It's not like you'd answer."

"Oh, really?" a familiar voice and a phantom presence asks, the perfume teasing his nose and disappearing. A hallucination. Maybe. "What do you want to know so badly, Gaius?"

"Who or what are you? You're not her," Baltar says, knowing better than trying to see her directly. He settles for the glimpse of her arm, an ankle, the flash of blonde hair and vicious smile. "I've spent the better part of three months realizing that even if you were, you're not now. You're a little bit what I dreamed she was."

"I'm a voice in your head," she says with a rich laugh, her hand resting on his shoulder. "You're insane, Gaius."

"Only a little," he protests. "Maybe that guilt and regret and madness have shaped the face of my messenger, but I don't precisely believe you merely to be madness."

She slides into view, setting her hands on him and sliding down into a lunge, dressed like some sort of dancer. Gaius will never understand this Six; they never danced, the two of them. But he understands the metaphor: let them tango as they always have.

He takes her hands and begins to lead. She follows. Perfectly.

"Very good, Gaius," she purrs, a hand on his chest before he tilts her back. "I am a messenger. I am the only messenger. I am God's voice. An angel."

"An angel," he drawls, seizing her wrists and pulling them over her head. "An angel who chooses to look like my Six."

"I have become all things to all, to save at least some," Six replies, her eyes fluttering shut with delight. "To those outside the law I became like one outside the law, though I am not outside God's law, to win over those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, to win over the weak. All this I do for the sake of God."

She pulls them back, back, back, and Baltar follows.

"So you are whatever you have to be to win?" he asks, caressing her windpipe with his thumb. "How perfectly clever of you."

"I love you, Gaius," Six says, brushing her lips against his. "I want to save at least some, and if it requires I play your fancied woman..."

"What if it requires something more?" he asks, meeting her eyes directly at last and falling still in their almost-dance. "What if I want to see the face of my God? What if I need some assurance that this...this entire clusterfrakking mess that I've sold myself into...isn't a delusion?"

"To see the face of God is to see madness," quotes Six with a wicked little grin, wiggling against him. She wants him to see, Baltar knows. His Cylon angel wants him to actually see the face of the One God.

It gives him pause, but he wants to know very badly. Badly enough that he's willing to be set up.

"Good thing I'm already mad," Baltar hisses, twisting her wrist as if he could break it. "I need to see You. My God, my Lord, I wish only to worship You, but I am weak, and need something bloody well tangible."

The laugh cuts through him like the memory of a nuclear wind around his body. "I have protected you above all others," Six intones hollowly. "Why do you deserve MY favor?"

"Because I have done more than any human in YOUR service," he says. "I have done Your will when it was not my own. I have listened to the constant mad whisperings of your angels, and betrayed my own. If not me, who deserves to know the truth of God?"

Six laughs, sneering at him. "You won't like it," she promises. "It will bruise your ego, and I know how much you hate that."

He flushes; damned clever woman. Or angel. Or odd incarnation of God.

"Perhaps it is all to the good," Baltar tries to say. "Pride is a sin?"

"Not one that you'd ever eschew," Six taunts. "But if you are absolutely certain about this, Gaius--"

"I am," he says, starting to sweat. "I think I have as much right as any Cylon to know my God."

He can almost feel her hand on his face, and he can see the look of contemplation in her eyes. There's something about his Six, the one who is not exactly like all the others. She burns with something other, something alien. All the Sixes are a bit hard -- it's a standing joke among the Eights, and Boomer and Baltar have joked about it.

This Six, this Six without body or substance, is harder. Cold and hot, one to make the heart pound and the skin go clammy. There's such a certainty about her.

"Close your eyes, Gaius," she says softly, her brilliant, unearthly gaze suddenly veiled. "And count to twenty."

"Twenty?" he asks, doing as she says and shaking his head. "What sort of all-powerful god needs his worshiper to close his eyes. What, afraid I'll catch you starkers? Or, no, of course -- divine modesty. I mean, really, darling, this is all too..."

Twenty.

His eyes open as if he had a choice.

And suddenly Gaius Baltar is in the presence of his God.

God is real. God is looking at him, and the feeling is like being exposed to a furnace. The feeling is like being thrown into a blizzard stark naked. Everything is crawling over the surface of his skin, the skin he doesn't have anymore because his God, the one God, has flayed him with a glance.

Baltar notes, in the part that will always be the cynical atheist positivist who cannot believe he's the prophecy lad of divine powers, that experiencing God is a lot like dealing in paradox.

The particular shock of it is that the presence of God is so real he can't deny it, but his eyes are deceiving him. He cannot make his eyes focus and see the face of God, or hear Him, or anything. It's all too much, and Gaius Baltar finds himself kneeling, looking at God's feet.

God is wearing high heels.

Baltar's gaze travels upward. God has nice legs. And is wearing a skirt.

It could be seconds or hours. Time loses meaning when one is trying to make sense of the fundamentally irrational and impossible, especially trying to contain it in a human form.

One that is slowly filling Baltar with dread.

It can't be, it couldn't be, it would be a sick joke.

it explains everything...

He'd at least gotten the gender right, he thinks bitterly, as reality continues to expand and shrink and give him a headache.

God's chosen patsy. The divine whipping boy. You needed to know the truth. Just had to know.

Baltar takes a breath. Breathes out.

"This rather explains a lot," he manages. "Laura."

She nods.

Smiles.

Doesn't say a word.

And then Baltar has a horrible thought. One that is worse than the secret identity of God, than the feeling that he's been played by the master player, any of it.

"It hasn't been you vamping me this whole time...has it?"