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The Book of Vessels

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Kara will have learned you. She'll spread your folds with two fingers, tease the opening with a third -- circling it, pressing up into the spongy swell of flesh, dipping inside and pulling out again -- in just the way that makes all of you spiral down into your center, throbbing. She'll fall to her knees in front of you, where you're sitting on the desk, because she knows you like to see her there. You'll hook your calf around her shoulder, and she'll cover your bare thigh with her arm against the cold, licking you in broad, zigzagging passes. She'll gauge your quivering expertly, trap you under the tip of her tongue, and curl her pinky into your ass. Her fingers scissoring inside you will prolong the orgasm, sending it undulating from your perineum to your toes. "Frak," you'll gasp, and bite your hand to keep from screaming.

You'll tangle your fist in her hair, which is longer than you've ever seen it, and yank her over the desk. You'll get her pants down and kick her legs apart and tell her, "Don't move" as you frak her. She'll thrust her hips back at you anyway, hungrily. When four fingers are in her up to the palm, your thumb stroking her clit, she'll moan "Please, can I?"

You'll tug on that mane, bending her backwards, and say, "You moved."

She'll make a strangled sound, flutter around your knuckles. "I know," she'll say.

You'll be smiling. "Yes, you can come anyway."

When you take your hand out, it will be streaked red. You'll wipe it on some scrap paper, tell her, "You're bleeding."

"Thank the gods for that," she'll laugh, wryly. Birth control will be rationed on New Caprica, and she won't be the only one holding her breath every month.

"You wouldn't want to have a child, if you can?" You'll caress the scars peeking from under the hem of her shirt, wish you could smooth them away. "Sam would be a wonderful father."

She'll button your jeans, twine her arms around your shoulders. "And what would you be?"

"Mmm," you'll say, kissing her, "godmother?"


My gift to you: the blood pulses into your arteries, surging through every rivulet and extremity. You awaken to the sensation of your destiny weaving itself into your cells, unravelling the knots of pain and setting your nerves prickling with renewed life. Mortality is tied to memory, and as your consciousness unclouds under the biochemistry of the divine, it offers up faces: Baltar's face, Sharon's face, Kara's face. You raise your arm to indict him -- traitor -- and the muscles work, wasted tissues reknitting in a miraculous ecstasy of healing.

Sharon is there when you open your eyes, and there, seared on your eyelids, when you close them. The world flickers on your retinas with unfamiliar vividness -- jewel-toned as the chamalla rendered it, but sharp around the edges. You wonder if this is how she sees it.

Billy never leaves your side. He's the one who raises your bed to sitting, who brings you the intelligence file on the peace movement and puts a pen in your hand. He's the one who you lean on while you dress, who averts his gaze discreetly but can't hide his joy to see you standing. But what you remember is Kara at your deathbed, the heartbreak etched in the square set of her jaw. Kara, who asked you for her chance at redemption, who you refused. The serum floods you, and those desiccated organs of wanting and not just surviving come back in bloom. A rescue mission to Caprica, the way Kara's lips trembled in desperation, the blue of Billy's sleeve against the sheets as he rearranges your pillows -- everything looks different now.

Outside Sharon's cell, you watch her cradle her belly, staring you down. You know you'll have her blood, the blood of Baltar and his Cylon collaborator, the blood of Kara's resistance compatriots, on your hands. You know you'll make peace for the rest, and count Kara among them.


Kara will have a way of walking into the schoolhouse like she belongs there. She'll smile at you when you glance up from your lesson plan, posing with her hips cocked.

"Working late?" she'll ask you.

You'll smirk at her, coquettishly, and her smile will get wider. "I sent Maya home with the baby," you'll say.

She'll perch on the desk next to you, and you'll put your hand on her thigh.

"The union is gaining support," she'll tell you. "Cally silkscreened a few hundred of your pamphlets, and we slipped them under the trays at the bread line. A bunch of new recruits have approached the Chief since then, and skirmishes on the job have picked up. Baltar is rattled by the unrest, apparently -- he didn't show at the site inspection yesterday."

"So at the meeting on Saturday, you'll start organizing micro-strike teams to disrupt the luxury builds? And Helo is going to train them in anti-violence tactics? I want minimal casualties, and I want advocates on call when they get arrested."

Kara will scoot your chair closer with her foot. "We have our orders, commander," she'll tease.

"Kara," you'll say, "you should talk to Lee."

She'll clear her throat. "Listen," she'll say, sobering, "Sam proposed to me."

You'll watch her face, the anxiety skittering across it, and slide your hand higher. "Did you say yes?"

"Yeah," she'll say, and look at you, penitent. "I love him."

You'll stand up, cup her face in your palms. "That's a good thing. Don't apologize to me for that." You'll kiss her, with a flicker of tongue, and rest your forehead against hers. "Maya kissed me."

Kara will stiffen. "Did you kiss her back?"

"Are you really ready to hear about that?" You'll kiss her again, gently. "Are you really in a position to tell me you don't want to share?"

She'll grimace, tuck her hands underneath your sweater, against your skin. "Does she know about this?"

You'll strip off her jacket, glide your fingers up her back to the elastic of her bra. "She knows enough. She knows you're great with Isis." You'll nip her ear, her neck, her collarbone. "She knows I'll always come back to you."

Kara will still be pouting a little. "She's very pretty. Young and..." she'll do a girlish vamp, batting her eyelashes.

You'll laugh, and tweak her nipple. "Don't be petty, miss. You like Maya, and you know she's good for me. Easy." You'll grab her ass, haul her against you. She'll moan when your leg jars her cunt, and dig her fingernails into your breast. "You, my huntress, are more of a challenge," you'll say. "Frak me."

She'll already be fumbling with your pants. You'll both gasp when she finds your clit, and you jerk into her fingers. "Gods," she'll breathe, "always."


It teaches you things, being half-blooded. Delivered from the draconian scales of death, you learn the sanctity of middle ground. Apt, isn't it, that reactionaries are demanding Sharon's immediate termination, while a terrorist faction calls for peace at any cost -- there's some truth, perhaps, to both sides. Healed by My grace, you remember the advantages of giving people a little of what they want. The talks with the peace movement are under the radar, so you arrange to meet Jahee on Cloud 9. There's enough sin and politics on that ship for a visit by the President to go unremarked.

Billy's working at his desk, organizing the trip. "I want Starbuck as escort," you tell him.

He looks up. "The schedule shows Starbuck and Apollo on R&R tomrrow."

You frown. After you were released from medical, you commed Kara. She never answered.

"Ask for Katraine," you say.

You knew what Kara wanted, once. You gave it to her, or didn't, as it suited your uncompromising mission. Halfway between oblivion and immortality, between annihilation and salvation, things are more complicated. Cain made it all simpler, and got a simple response -- the leash she pulled was only a loose end of the intricate tangle that is Kara. You're tied up in her, inextricably, but you've lost the thread that draws her close.

Kat is at your side as you walk through the Cloud 9 lounge. You didn't really believe you'd catch Kara there, but you do. She's sitting in the corner, half in shadow. She's wearing civilian clothes, dangerously feminine, and her pale arms and hair glow golden in the dimness. There's a half-empty bottle on the table next to her, and she's straddling a girl's lap, coaxing the strap of a blouse off her shoulder. The girl's back is to you, but Kara glances up and you see her face. Her eyes go wide when she spots you, and you know then that she's still yours. You put your hand on the small of Kat's back, possessively, and Kat steps into your touch. Kara's jaw clenches. She kisses the girl, buries her fingers in long, dark hair.


After the election, Kara will comm you: "You lost the battle, not the war."

You'll never ask her if she left Galactica for you, or for Anders. In any case, you'll have been on New Caprica barely a week when she turns up at your tent, mud-spattered. With the commotion of the campaign, the planet, the transition, you won't have seen her in over a month. You'll pull her into a hug, breathing in sync with her, smelling dirt and engine grease and girl.

She'll chuckle, nuzzling into your neck. "I'm getting you dirty."

"Not half as dirty as you'll be getting with me later, believe me," you'll say, with a coy raised eyebrow. "Meanwhile, welcome to the Presidential retirement suite." You'll sweep your arm across the space in an ironically grand gesture -- it's two dim rooms in military-issue canvas, cluttered with your files and Maya's baby paraphernalia. "Let me give you a tour of HQ."

You won't have seen her, but you'll have talked to Kara almost every day. She'll be familiar with the operation: a decentralized program of grassroots organizing and guerilla actions, made to appear piecemeal and spontaneous. Unionization will offer a legal safe harbor for legitimate protest, and a base for more underhanded stratagems, executed with the impression of randomness so they're untraceable to any structured leadership. Certainly untraceable to you: you'll have the irreproachable role of schoolteacher as a front, keep your hands clean so Baltar can't touch you. Kara will do the rabble rousing, she'll coordinate your efforts between the union meetings and the charity groups and the underground press. And of course, she'll report back to you. Frequently.

You'll never ask Kara what she told Anders, but the answer would have been, 'She's my calling, just as much now as when we met.' Kara will never ask you why you need to raise this child. Baltar's circle of supporters will shrink steadily, falling prey to the vicious cycle of increasingly repressive state policies and increasing public discontent. Baltar's part is played out, and you'll usurp his place as Mine. Together, you and your huntress will get your people spacebound again. You'll take to the skies, and lead My children to Earth.


The blood is still wet on Billy's chest when you pull back the sheet. You lay your cheek there, next to the wound, and feel him grow colder. The vitality leeches out of you with his body heat. When you hear the creak of the hatch, you lift your head. You're as icy and grey inside as the corpse.

Kara is standing in the doorway. Kara, who can't hide the rifts tearing open under her skin. She drags a chair from the corner, and the rasp against the floor echoes in the silent morgue. She sits down next to you, looks at Billy, not at you. You hold his hand.

Minutes pass, or hours. She says, "Are you ready to go home?" Her voice is gaunt and broken.

You take a deep, stuttering breath. "Can you..." you whisper, tugging at the shroud. You turn your back so you don't have to see her cover Billy's face.

In the shuttle, you watch her hands as she flies. She plays the controls by instinct, a virtuoso. You watch the stars outside the windshield, the looming shapes of the ships suspended among them.

In the landing bay of Colonial One, she cuts the engines. The door opens with a hydraulic whirr. Neither of you moves.

"I prayed for you," Kara says, "when you were dying." She turns her head and snares you with those eyes, wide and blue and abject.

You say, "I don't want you to leave."

You can't be in the office, not yet, with the specter of his vacant desk. You take her to your bedroom, and she huddles on the edge of the loveseat while you pour two glasses of ambrosia. You hand Kara hers, and she downs it on one gulp.

"How's Lee?" you ask her.

She coughs. "Stable," she says. She stares at the empty tumbler, cradled between her palms. "I frakked up today." She's shattered, as if deliverance rests on her shoulders.

You sit down next to her, and take her face in your hands. She looks at you, then, startled and desperate. You trace the velvety flush of her cheekbones with your fingertips, the dark half-moons under her eyelids, the unlined arc of her lips. Her youth makes you ache. This is what binds you to Kara, that your capacity to see her holiness has never been yoked to her success or failure. You say, "I want you anyway."

Kara kisses you. She kisses you recklessly, all tongue and craving. Your teeth clack together and you taste blood, tears, the hungry thrum of your hybrid cells.

The glass shatters on the floor in your haste to strip each other. You grab fistfuls of her flesh, stretching the soft curves over muscle, and drag her to the bed. Her skin is hot against yours, thawing you, setting you ablaze. She pulls you to her, your back crushing her breasts, and you arch into her embrace. Her hands are rough on you, urgent, marking you with red scratches that spell out pain, loss, life. She skims the bud of your clit with her fingernail, and it's too much, a pleasure so sharp it could slice you in two. When you gasp, she pulls back to stroke the hood, teeth at your shoulder. You cover her hand with yours, draw it down into your folds. You hook her finger inside you, slide it in with yours behind it, and tell her, "Take me." She moans against your neck and fraks you, slow and deep, filling up the empty places. Your palm presses the heel of her hand against your clit, your fingers slick along each other within you, working an invocation in tandem. She circles your ass with a free fingertip, folds it inside, and everything in you uncoils from there as you come, shuddering in her arms.

"Kara," you whisper, "Kara," and you turn over and pin her under you. Kicking off the remnants of your clothes, you press one hand to her chest as you kiss her, feeling her heart beat under your palm. Every nerve, every vessel sings in time with her breath, destiny vibrating through you and pouring into Kara through her skin. You frak her with two fingers, then three, feel her ballooning open as you curl them upwards. Kara writhes against you, lost and whimpering, and you give her your other hand to suck when you add the fourth.

"You belong to me," you tell her, "me and the gods." She's home here, lanced through the center by your affirmation. You use her spit to help wet your knuckles, put your fingers back in her mouth with her taste on them. "You belong to us, and we're going to keep you." You tuck your thumb inside, the ring of muscle taut around your hand. "You're going to take my fist," you say, "because you want to, not because I tell you to." She keens as she swallows up the widest part, the pulse in her cunt beating against the pulse in your wrist. Her contractions ripple around you with every imperceptible movement. "Please," she moans, "yes," and you pump your arm one, two, three until she screams.

You kiss her, afterward, all over. Your lips find the scars on her belly, and she answers "Caprica" before you can ask the question.

You look up at her, propped on your elbow. You outline her hipbone, the curve of her stomach, the crease of her thigh, consecrating them. "Will you tell me the story, sometime?"

There's a little furrow of bitterness between her eyebrows. "You could have asked before."

All you can say is, "I'm sorry, I was..."

"Busy saving the human race, I know," she says. It's the first time you've seen her smile since, perhaps, the dedication of the Blackbird.

You slide up her body, smooth your thumb over her forehead. "I shouldn't have tried to save it without you," you say, and mean it.

"You didn't," she whispers. She nestles you against her, weaving your legs together like the threads of fate. "Did you hear that I was the one who found her body?" She doesn't have to tell you she means Cain. Her fingers are busy relearning you, mapping the ridges of ribs and spine. "I was ready to shoot her, when you ordered it."

"You came to see me when I was sick," you say. "You asked me to marshal a rescue expedition to Caprica. Do you still want to go back?"

"I still need to go back," she says. Her muscles flex under your cheek. "I left someone there."

You tighten your legs around her, cup her breast in your palm. "I don't think I believed, then, in anything but survival and the harsh reality of loss. Now I need to believe that there are people left to save. Or I need you to believe for me."

She rolls on top of you, kisses you with her hands encircling your neck. "Laura," she says, "do you remember it, the verse?"

You smile at her, liquid, and wipe your eyes. "The goddess with a bold heart turns every way destroying the race of wild beasts," you murmur, untangling her hair between your fingers. "And when she is satisfied and has cheered her heart, this huntress who delights in arrows slackens her supple bow... and heads and leads the dances, gracefully arrayed." You stroke the unyielding edge of her jaw, her collarbone. "Don't forget the second part."

All of this has happened before: the two of you lying sated in this bed, before you send Kara on a madcap mission home. All of this will happen again, and every time, she'll come back to you. You are a trinity: the prophet, her disciple, and the blessed child.