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You Bleed and Breathe the Air

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Samuel T. Anders was born on Picon. He went to Noyse Elementary School, Noyse Junior High, Levin High School, and then jumped planets to Caprica City so he could attend the university there on an athletic scholarship. He was a first-round pick for the Caprica Buccaneers, where he quickly became team captain and held the team's record high for points scored both in a single game and in a single season. He got photographed at concerts, both rock and orchestral; he dated two different models, Shiann and Liz, within his first two years with the C-Bucs; and he had a personal rule never to get romantically or sexually involved with his teammates. He did a commercial to raise awareness about organ donation; he once delighted a group of Caprica City second-graders on a field trip by spending an hour in a hands-on science museum with them; and he agreed to go to dinner with the winner of a C-Bucs charity auction for the Caprican Health Society, leading to a winning bid high enough that even his generally unflappable agent raised his eyebrows in surprise.

Before the Cylons attacked, he went into the mountains near Delphi with his team for high-altitude training, all of them hoping to rally hard after the disappointment of their previous season. Over time, they became resistance fighters rather than athletes, a lone group of survivors rather than sports celebrities.

He married his rescuer, the only woman to ever beat him in one-on-one Pyramid, the best Viper pilot in the fleet, and the thing that he always comes back to is that she gave up the stars for him.

*

She gave up her Viper, her uniform, her freedom to fly, all things he's connected with her in his mind from the day she first barged into his life.

It's no big deal, she told him, I was ready to get out of those metal walls and stretch my legs for once. What's a fighter pilot going to do if she can't frakking fight, she asked him, because believe me, I've had enough of nuggets and CAPs for a while. His favorite was the night barely a month after their spur-of-the-moment riverside wedding when he'd caught her outside on a hill with her face up to the stars, dimly illuminated and almost wistful, and he asked her if she missed flying up there in them. You're my star, she answered, and she was as firm about it as he's ever seen her, then or now.

He knew in that moment, right before she seduced him back down the hill and into their tent, that he couldn't possibly love her more.

*

He was reigning king of the New Caprican Pyramid court, and she was more than he would've thought to ask for in a queen: she was his biggest fan, his toughest competition, and his most trusted teammate. No one's trash-talk cut deeper on the court, and no one drank harder when they had a chance to celebrate (even though most of them tried at one point or another).

He'd never seen anything like her luck.

Two weeks into their marriage, she ambushed him in their tent while wearing nothing but a blanket. It'd taken him seconds to unwrap her and get her on top of him, kneeling over his hips.

"I'm pretty sure we at least frak like newlyweds."

He already had scratches and bruises, and every one he didn't get on the court was earned in the heat of a different moment, one-on-one with her. She liked to tease him about wearing them with pride, and she wasn't wrong. "We could ask our neighbors in the next tent."

"Oh," she laughed in response, "they love us. They probably hope we eventually have some rugrats to show for all this hard work."

He felt a grin stretch across his face. "Kara Thrace and Samuel T. Anders: saving the human race one frak at a time."

"I'd rather just frak."

His hands found her waist and pulled her down against him. "I know."

With her face only inches from his, she just barely smothered a smile. "Does that disappoint you?"

"I just play for love of the game. But I learned enough from my agent" -- he raised his head to kiss her widening grin, and she took the opportunity to tug his shirt up and off -- "to recognize a good deal."

*

She's the entire reason -- the only reason -- he made it off Caprica and onto New Caprica. When she disappeared, all he could think of was saving her like she'd saved him.

He didn't go easily when Galen, a good guy who was nice enough not to call him a moron and couldn't be faulted for not having Kara's charisma, found him near the Cylons' detention center and tried to make him take a break and get some rest. The first time he refused outright despite the coughs that rattled through his body. Later in the day, when Galen returned with Cottle for backup, he caved in. The tent was empty and his bed was emptier, but he didn't spend significant time on his feet again for over a week and took even longer to lose the cough.

Every day felt wasted until the resistance came together as a unit and started taking action.

He knew he and Kara were both lucky to have survived for there to even be a Caprica rescue, and he only hoped that wherever she was her trademark luck would hold out for them again.

 

*

When he stops to think about it, the way they've beaten the odds always amazes him.

He isn't happy with how hard it is for her to shake the memory of being held prisoner by that crazy Cylon, with her need to lash out or the bitterness that radiates from her in waves, but he can't blame her for what happened to her back there and doesn't pretend she isn't entitled to time to cope.

He isn't happy when she pushes him away, but he doesn't feel forced to answer in kind until she takes his place on the Circle for the sake of dishing out her own brand of punishment.

He isn't happy to be put on the Salpica when he decides to enlist, either, but his very first day on the ship sees him giving an autograph for the first time since the colonies were destroyed and it makes him lighter than he's been in weeks.

And Kara seems to get enough space that she starts to seek him out more often.

He carves a niche for himself, a life that doesn't include Kara living beside him but always has room for her. He pushes himself through his work, he plays Pyramid three days a week with a group that predates his arrival to the ship, he makes friends easily and joins them for drinks and card games, he coaches the Salpica's XO's eight-year-old into perfecting his throw, and every time Kara asks to see him he makes himself available if he possibly can.

Even when he has to come out and tell her he wants their frakking marriage back, even when it becomes obvious that whatever she and Lee Adama had in the past hasn't stayed in the past, he doesn't stop loving his wife.

He's always pulled back into her orbit or she's pulled into his. Every time he sees Vipers out patrolling or hears an alert going out or sees her waiting expectantly for him to get off the shuttle, he remembers the one thing that always struck him as so godsdamned important.

She was willing to give up the stars for him.