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01 February 2009 @ 03:58 pm
flesh and blood and bone [bsg - Kara/Leoben]  
Apparently I’ve lost a month. Whedonfic just didn’t feel like working. But February is looking better, and this is so very OTP, I don’t know why I’ve never tried it before.

Title: Flesh and Blood and Bone
Fandom: Battlestar Galactica
Pairing: Kara Thrace/Leoben Conoy
Rating: PG-13 for themes
Word Count: 1650
Summary: She needs to leave a mark, but his body is unassailable. Oh, hey there, metaphysics.
Notes: New season, so I’m writing New Caprica fic. No, I don’t know why either. Spoilers through the beginning of season three, though I’d recommend being through the first episode of 4.5.

She doesn’t know how long she’s been sitting at the table when the door grates open and he again steps through. Time has no meaning in a place like this. Perhaps it’s never truly had any meaning anywhere.

“I’m home, Kara,” Leoben says quietly from the doorway, the perfect mockery of domesticity. Everything about him is strangely quiet – it always has been, even when he’s screaming, drowning, dying. At her hands or by her orders.

This much, Kara has noticed. She’s had enough of a chance to study him… far more than she’d ever have wanted.

Today, however, Leoben is only smiling slightly, as if there’s some secret amusement in the situation only he can see. There probably is – the Cylon bastard is warped enough that she doubts his reality even begins to resemble her own. Just circuits and wiring… there’s nothing frakking real there, even if she’s never been able to find the spark that makes him tick, the mechanical connection in that all too human brain of his.

Still, she almost has to admit that he doesn’t look particularly artificial, standing in the half-light at the threshold between her prison and the outside world. He’s impossible, since she remembers strangling him hours (days?) ago, and the body is probably still in her bed, but here he stands again, whole and unharmed and halfway between her and everything else. Toaster or not, he’s still the closest thing she has to contact with reality.

And she frakking hates him for that.

She hates him for everything, but for that most of all.

“No words of welcome?” Leoben comments with a convincing display of sincerity. “I’ve come to expect better of you, Starbuck.” There’s a strange note in his voice when he says the name (there always has been), and it makes Kara want to tear out his eyes. Or her own, if the other’s not an option.

Instead, she simply tightens her grip around her butter knife and smiles up at him, sickly sweet. “Sorry… I left the best of my knives in the sink,” she deadpans. “Though I suppose that should technically be your knives, shouldn’t it?”

He shrugs as if it doesn’t matter to him one way or the other, but his eyes still linger on the utensil in her hand. Kara wonders whether he realizes how lucky he is that she’s too tired of this charade to want to use it today – the thing is too blunt to make for a quick and easy death, and Kara’s never been a fan of mercy.

(Of course, maybe not so lucky. He’d probably have enjoyed it anyway.)

“This is all unnecessary,” Leoben tells her calmly, moving forward until he’s standing in front of the table, just out of arm’s reach. “One day you will come around. Until then…” He smiles, as if he thinks his patience a virtue, but leaves the sentence unfinished.

It’s an old argument. Any hold it may have once had over her is long gone

“It’s that damn human aggression, I guess,” Kara laments, fake smile still plastered across her face. “I’m sorry if the ability to give a damn is getting in the way of your programming.”

“Kara, you know better than that,” he murmurs, a familiar claim to something resembling humanity, and she wonders if it’s true. She wonders if he’s thinking about interrogation rooms and airlocks and the vacuum of space, like she is again. She wonders if the memory of lessons learned is running through his mind as well. And she wonders if that Cylon brain is even capable of something analogous to human thought.

She wonders if he’s even the same person – if he’s even a person at all – as he was back in that cell when the roles were reversed. If he’s really a name and not just a number… if any of these frakking words he’s so good at stringing together mean anything at all.

She wonders, because in all this time, she’s never been able to stop wondering about any of it.

“I know more than you think I know,” Kara tells him, and even she can hear the edge of hysteria in her voice. She doesn’t care. Back on the Galactica, this would have been the point where she’d jump across the table and try to beat him senseless. Now she doesn’t dare, even though she knows that he’s unlikely to retaliate.

The knives are in the kitchen sink. She might still be able to reach one before he manages to stop her, but it would only be a momentary victory, and she needs something more. He’d download and simply return: unharmed, undamaged, unbroken. She needs to leave a mark, but his body is unassailable.

She wonders if his mind is similarly immune.

Somehow she doubts it.

“How many times has it been now?” Kara asks conversationally after a long moment of silence. She’s lifted the butter knife in front of her face and is studying it with an interest that isn’t entirely feigned. “How many times have I killed you?”

The question doesn’t seem to trouble him. She never expected it would.

“Seven,” Leoben replies. “Maybe eight.”

“Seven, maybe eight,” Kara repeats, and then begins to laugh. She watches a brief flicker of confusion cross his face and feels momentarily vindicated. “Seven, maybe eight. Eleven, Leoben. It’s been eleven. Does dying mean that little to you, that you can’t even be bothered to remember?”

“We simply download into new bodies, Kara,” he reminds her.

“Right.” The butter knife falls to the table with a loud clang. “Of course. New bodies.” She laughs again, and makes no effort to stop herself. All of the questions that she’s never bothered to ask – in some cases, hardly even thought through – bubble up inside of her, and she means to throw them all at him with one aim in mind. “I’m sorry, but what does that even mean? What are you? Do you just… go grab a new body with the same mental blueprint and download the memories of a dead… thing, and pretend that you’re it? Is that immortality?”

She’s shaking with laughter now, at the absurdity of the situation, at the twisted horror of it all, but Leoben only watches her, bemused. “There is a power in memories, in the mind,” he says simply. “It is the recollection of everything that has come before, not something as fleeting as the body, that makes us who we are.”

“No,” Kara lurches forward and her chair skids out from beneath her. She barely notices. “This makes us what we are,” she hisses, shoving her arm out in front of his face. “Flesh and blood and bone, inseparable from the mind. This makes me Kara Thrace. You… you’re just a Two. A machine that thinks it’s still Leoben Conoy.”

I saw you die back in the fleet, she doesn’t say. I saw you flushed out that airlock. I prayed for your soul, and maybe now I wish I hadn’t, but that doesn’t mean you’re him.

“Do you remember?” she asks instead, for the first time. She doesn’t bother to specify, because she knows that he’ll understand – he always does – and she already almost wishes she had said nothing at all. With Leoben, asking a question means getting a response, and Kara wouldn’t even be able to say which answer she’d prefer.

“I remember dying at the command of your president,” Leoben replies, disturbingly calm. “It isn’t a quick death.” His fingers closed around her arm and he leans towards her, ever so slightly. “I remember the freezing cold of open space, the burning of lungs – flesh and blood like yours – deprived of any oxygen, the—”

“Shut up,” Kara hisses, and she pulls her arm back before she can snap and try to strangle him. “That just proves… what? That you’re a good copy? That you’re not missing any parts?

“But what if he’s dead? Really, really dead. What if everything that made him him got flushed out that airlock, and his consciousness is gone. Just… gone. Replicated, maybe. Duplicated, but not continued. What if that was the end, and you’ll never know it?” She’s practically manic by the end, but she can see that he’s finally considering the possibility, his not quite mechanical mind ticking away behind those eyes.

But then Leoben shakes his head, smiling as if none of this bothers him. “Does it really matter?” he asks.

Does it really matter that he may be living a lie that’s been downloaded into his mind? Kara clenches her teeth and wonders when she began to actually care what the answer might be. “You tell me.”

For a long moment, Leoben says nothing. He simply stares at her, considering the question. Finally, he shrugs and states, “I am as I am, as God made me. And I am them, even if they aren’t me. Because in me, Kara, remains every Leoben you’ve killed, even if you are right and their consciousnesses were somehow different from my own.”

And then she’s laughing again, as if this really is some cosmic joke on all of them. “But you’re missing the other half of the problem,” she says, snatching up the butter knife and twirling it between her fingers. “Because if I’m right – and I usually am – then the next time I put this through your eye, you’ll be dead. There’ll be a new copy of you to take over where you left off, but you…”

Kara snaps her fingers and can feel her lips twisting into a macabre smile. She considers killing him now, but decides that for once, it will be more rewarding to watch him work through all the ramifications. Leaning forward, she brushes her lips across the side of his face and, still smiling, whispers into his ear.

“Think on that, lover.”
tyrella_2008: Leoben:Angeltyrella_2008 on February 1st, 2009 09:47 pm (UTC)
"With Leoben, asking a question means getting a response..." I like this, I had always a soft spot for NewCaprica-Leoben and you characterize him very well.Thanks for sharing.
Rhaellafading_echoes on February 2nd, 2009 12:57 am (UTC)
Haha, I have a soft spot for every Leoben, I think. Glad you enjoyed! :)
(Deleted comment)
Rhaella: Six x Baltar - BSGrhaella on February 7th, 2009 12:55 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! :) I'm so glad you enjoyed it. Right now, I think I just miss their relationship in general. And yes... despite their alienness, the Cylons have always seemed human enough to have some of the same issues. Sequel...? Haha, I have a very bad track record with continuing things, but hopefully I'll end up writing them again at some point. :3
margaretmoony: Kara/Leobenmargaretmoony on February 6th, 2009 09:08 am (UTC)
I love, love your ending!
Rhaella: Athena - BSGrhaella on February 7th, 2009 12:52 am (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it. :)