beatrice_otter: BSG's Six with red Cylon eyes (Six)
[personal profile] beatrice_otter
Title: Absolution
Author: [ profile] beatrice_otter
Fandom: Battlestar Galactica
Rating: PG
Characters: Boomer, Bill Adama
Warnings: None
Spoilers: Crossroads II.  This will be jossed as soon as the new season starts, I know.
Word Count: 2500
Written For: [ profile] princessofg

A year after they settle on Earth, Sharon asks to see Admiral Bill Adama.  Not their Sharon.  No, the Sharon who asks to see him is the first Number Eight he knew.   Sharon Valerii, the original, Boomer.  The one who tried to kill him.  Bill says no.

Well, what he actually says is more along the lines of “Frak, no.  Does she think I’m an idiot?”  To which Saul adds some even choicer curses on Cylons in general and Boomer specifically, totally ignoring (as usual) the fact that he is one himself.  He’s gotten good at that, over the past year.  The message Bill sends back to the Cylons is considerably more diplomatically phrased; they’ve spent a year living on opposite sides of the same planet as the Cylons, with the natives of Earth as a buffer between them.  It’s gone a hell of a lot better than Adama could have imagined in his wildest dreams but it could still all go to Hell in a handbasket.  Bill’s not going to risk everything by pissing the Cylons off for the fun of it.  Much as he might sometimes like to.  He forgets about it, diving into the latest round of negotiations with the Earthers for transfer of military technology.

A week later Boomer sends the same request again.  Bill sends the same reply back to her.  He’s got enough on his plate, without worrying about might-have-beens and old pain and whatever insane plan the Cylons have cooked up now.  Cylons don’t act alone, and the ideas they come up with make his head hurt and his heart ache even when the safety of humanity isn’t at stake.  Athena keeps him informed on what little Cylon internal politics she hears, and it’s enough to make him grateful that he only has to deal with the President and the Quorum of Twelve.  Saul adds to his previous commentary on the treachery of Cylons with a few new choice phrases; Bill listens with half an ear as he goes back to the business of trying to keep the fleet maintained and ready.  With most of the ships sitting empty while the people who used to live on them revel in being on solid ground, it’s no easy task.

Three weeks later Saul has run out of ire on the subject, giving only a grunt and shaking his head when the message arrives.  The request comes in every week with papers from the Cylon liaison, and Bill says no every week, and the Cylon liaison doesn’t protest or make a fuss or even hint that he has an opinion one way or another about what Number Eight is doing.

The next time Bill has tea with Sharon Agathon, after they’re done with what rumbles she’s heard from the Cylons lately, and the state of the fleet, and gone on to speak of more personal matters, he asks her about the other Number Eight.

“Which one?” she asks with a smile.  “There are of a lot of us, you know.”

“Boomer,” he says with some chagrin.  He knows, of course, that there are many copies of every model of Cylon, but he tends to forget that there are any Eights besides the two who have served on Galactica.

Sharon shakes her head.  “I’ve only met her twice, and only for a few minutes,” she says.

“What did you think of her?”  Bill’s not sure why he’s asking; it’s not like he’ll ever meet her again.

“She was very angry.”  Sharon sips her tea.

“Angry about what?” he presses.

Sharon cocks her head to the side, considers her fellow Cylon.  “Everything,” she says at last.  “But mostly herself, I think.”

“Is she dangerous?”

“Yes,” Sharon says firmly, looking him straight in the eye.

He wasn’t planning on ever agreeing to Boomer’s request, any way.

“When are you going to say yes?” Laura asks one evening, thumbing idly through a classic Earth book on education theory given to her as a gift from the ambassador.  She’s complained that it’s badly written and almost all wrong, but as the secretary of education for the Colonies (again), the one in charge of interfacing their school system with that of Earth, she needs to know it.

“Yes to what?”  Bill eyes her over the top of his reading glasses, turning the page of his own book.  It, too, was a gift from the Earth ambassador, a historical novel about a naval officer, back when the navy’s ships sailed the seas instead of the stars.  The Colonies never had such naval forces.  He finds it fascinating.

“Boomer.”  Laura gives him a faint smile, one he learned a long time ago means he needs to tread carefully to avoid getting maneuvered into something he doesn’t want to do.  “When are you going to agree to meet with her?”

“I’m not,” Bill says.  “Eventually, she’ll get the idea and stop asking.”

“If she hasn’t by now, I don’t think she’s going to,” Laura says mildly.  “And if she does, you will spend the rest of your life wondering what was so important to her to go to all this trouble to speak with you, of all people.”

“I can live with that,” Bill says dryly, and turns back to his book.  Laura goes back to hers, and drops the subject.  She fidgets, shifting position more than usual, he notes absently; it’s probably because her book is boring.  His isn’t; after so long with only whatever books he happened to have in his cabin when the Colonies were destroyed, a good book he hasn’t read yet is an incredible luxury.  He’s been too busy so far to take much time to read it, but that’s beginning to change as things get settled in.  Maybe he’ll ask the ambassador to recommend him a good mystery or two.

A month later Boomer is still sending her requests every week and Laura hasn’t brought it up again.  He’s willing to admit that Laura was right, now, and sends a new answer back: he’ll meet with her on neutral ground, on the condition that both Colonial Marines and Earthforce Peacekeepers be present.  The Cylons respond with a counter-offer: neutral ground is acceptable, if the Marines and Peacekeepers are within visual range but out of earshot, as long as they can have a few Centurions present.  Bill counters that having Marines and Centurions in the same room is asking for trouble, and he’s not coming without Marines.  The Cylons suggest that both the Marines and the Centurions be disarmed for the meeting.

Saul grumbles about the whole thing.  “Don’t see what the frak you want to see her for, Bill,” he says as they go over plans in Bill’s office.  “And the Marines’ll be frakking useless against Centurions without their guns.”

“If they wanted to break the armistice, they’ve had a lot better targets to do it,” Bill says.  “If they wanted to kill me, they’d go about it differently.  Be sneakier about it.  The Marines are mostly for show.  I’m not worried.”

It takes another two weeks to get all the details ironed out with the Earthers and the Cylons, by which time Bill surprises himself by getting impatient.

It isn’t just that he wants to get this over with, though there’s a lot of that.  He wants to know why this is so important to her.  He wants to know if she’s like his Sharon, his friend, Athena.  He wants to know if she knew she was a Cylon before she pulled that trigger.

When they finally meet face-to-face, it’s in an upscale conference room in an Earth government facility.  As always, the abundance of glass and right angles in Earth design make it forcibly clear he’s not in the colonies, any more.  It’s nicely decorated, but it feels kind of like a fishbowl, complete with glass walls on all four sides.  The tasteful blinds are fully open; the outer wall gives a decent view of the park next door.  Opposite that wall, the Peacekeepers stand vigilant in their ceremonial uniforms on the other side of the glass; Marines and Centurions, less pretty but far more deadly even unarmed, take station at the two remaining walls, across from each other.  Sharon is there when he arrives, standing at the window with her back to the door, arms folded around herself.

“You wanted to see me?” he says, noting her civilian clothes and her short hair.  Focuses on them to remind himself that however much she looks like the Sharon he knows, she’s not her.  It’s a reversal of how he learned to trust the Sharon who became Athena, the one who still wears the same uniform he does.

“Thank you for coming, sir,” she replies, tensing a little at the sound of his voice.  She turns to face him, and he can see this isn’t easy for her, even though he’s the one who was shot.

“You were very persistent,” he says, neutrally.

“I know,” she says.  She hesitates, avoiding his eyes, and takes a deep breath to fortify herself.  She squares her shoulders and looks him in the eye.  “I wanted to apologize.  For shooting you.”

Adama holds himself still.  “You want to apologize?”  He’s not as surprised as he’d thought he would be.  Maybe he was expecting this, on some level.

“Yes.  I’m sorry for trying to kill you.  It wasn’t my will, and I don’t even remember doing it, but it was my body, and I’m sorry for that.  I’m sorry for betraying your trust.”  It has the feel of something she’s thought out ahead of time, carefully scripted and learned by rote.  Some tension in her releases as she finishes, and he wonders what it cost her, to come here today and say this to him.

“You say you don’t remember it?” he asks, honestly curious.  It’s hard to think rationally about the assassination attempt, hard in a way that doesn’t compare to any of the times he’s almost died in battle, though he’s never been sure why.  He doesn’t remember much of it himself, but he has a reason.

Boomer shakes her head.  “I didn’t know I was a Cylon.  Not at first.  After the Colonies were destroyed, I started … blacking out, losing bits of time.  Odd things started happening to me.  I was afraid.  I went to Baltar, asked him to test me.  He said I wasn’t a Cylon and I was so relieved.”

Bill freezes.  Baltar knew she was a Cylon?  He gave up trying to understand the man’s insane betrayals a long time ago, but this … he shakes it off.  There’ll be time to deal with it later, back in the fleet.

“But … things kept happening,” she says.  “And I had this feeling in my gut that something terrible was going to happen, that I was going to hurt someone, and I couldn’t shake it.  Tried to kill myself.  Twice.  Couldn’t.  I don’t know whether that was the programming, or just not being strong enough to actually do it.”

Bill remembers visiting her in sickbay, cheek bandaged from a gunshot wound that was certainly no accident.  He’d almost forgotten about it, given what happened just afterwards.  He supposes it was convenient to forget, seeing her so frail and broken, so human, just before she proved dramatically that she wasn’t.

“Then the mission to the basestar over Kobol.  I got off the raptor with the nuke, and they were waiting for me.  Other Eights.  I tried to say I was human, that I wasn’t a Cylon that it was all some kind of hallucination.  They said they loved me, and … the next thing I remember is being on Galactica, in custody, being told I’d tried to kill you.”  She wraps her arms tighter around herself, stares out the window, sounding like she’s talking to herself, like she’s forgotten he’s there.  Bill watches, hardly daring to breathe.  He doesn’t want to distract her.  Some “love.”  But then, that’s a concept Cylons have always had a problem with isn’t it?

“I didn’t want to believe it, but … in some ways, it was a relief.  Knowing the worst was over.  They wouldn’t let me do anything else, and they’d space me, and then—then I wouldn’t have to worry any more.  And then I died, and woke up again in a resurrection tank.  Surrounded by happy, beautiful people telling me I should be proud of betraying the only home I ever had, betraying my friends, trying to kill a man I respected deeply.”  She falls silent, looking back into the past, into herself.

He should say something, but he’s not sure what.  It’s not a feeling he’s used to.  “Do you expect me to forgive you for shooting me?” he asks mildly, honestly curious.

Her eyes flash.  “You forgave Tigh.”  Her voice is bitter, jealous.  She doesn’t expect him to forgive her.

She’s changed since she was killed on Galactica.  Unlike most Cylons Bill has met, Boomer’s eyes are dark.  Not in color, but in the weight of grief and pain and experience.  Athena’s eyes hold the same weight, but hers are clear; she knows herself, knows her family, knows the quiet strength learned sitting in a cell, surrounded by enemies she chose to make into friends.  Or maybe she learned that wisdom earlier, running on Caprica with Helo.  He doesn’t know, and suddenly he wants to.  Does the Sharon in front of him share it, if only in potential?

When he learned to trust Sharon Agathon, judgment and loyalties both, he learned to think of her as completely different from her sisters and all other Cylons, and not just in experience and the choices it led to, but in something more fundamental.  In her soul, if Cylons have them.  Maybe he wasn’t giving experience enough weight.  Maybe that’s what “soul” is.  Or maybe it has to do with choice, and betrayal.  Athena chose to betray her people to stay true to what (who) she held dearest, and she did it with eyes wide open knowing what it would cost her.  Boomer was programmed to betray herself by her own people.

“You came a lot closer to killing me than Tigh did when the Cylon programming kicked in,” he notes, choosing his words with care.  “I still have nightmares with your face on them.  That you weren’t in control of what your body was doing doesn’t change that.”  He feels a strange sense of déjà vu; he had this conversation with Tigh over a year ago.

“You managed to get over it for Athena,” Boomer says, venomous, and if there’s anything left of the scared, gentle Raptor pilot, he can’t see it.  “I don’t know why I bothered,” she mutters, stalking for the door, fists clenched.

He turns to watch her go.  Sharon,” he says as she reaches for the knob.  “I forgive you.”

She doesn’t turn around, doesn’t say anything, but the tension in her body eases.

(no subject)

Date: 2008-02-03 10:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
yay! you posted. and i love the title. i think it's perfect.

go you!

(no subject)

Date: 2008-02-03 11:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
so glad that my Window of Available to Beta matched up with your Ready for A Beta.

(no subject)

Date: 2008-02-04 06:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
OMG, I am so happy you claimed this prompt! I love this, everything about it - I like how it deals with the fact that she died before he woke up and so he never knew anything about her motivations, or her story, and how that lead him to judge her as a traitor. And I especially like her at the end, and her anger and resentment at the fact that he seems to have managed to forgive everybody except her, including the Sharon who took her place and (in her eyes) stole her life.

And in addition to all the good personal interaction, I like the idea of them being on Earth, and all the little references to that, especially Bill and Laura's respective reading material.

(no subject)

Date: 2008-03-30 12:27 am (UTC)
ext_47: a wolf looking at reflection in a lake (Default)
From: [identity profile]
This is great. I love that he forgives her in the end, and that all she had wanted to tell him was that she was sorry even though she didn't really think that he would forgive.

(no subject)

Date: 2008-03-30 06:08 pm (UTC)
ext_47: a wolf looking at reflection in a lake (Default)
From: [identity profile]
I was looking through the tags on [ profile] choc_fic.

(no subject)

Date: 2008-04-20 01:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Here via [ profile] crack_van. Thank you for this. Boomer just kinda... fades out of the show, lost in the shuffle, and I always thought that was a shame. I love that you gave her resolution, some form of closure. Your comment to another poster says that Boomer gets shafted, and that's so true. For Athena, even in her bitterest days, she had Helo, who did not waver, who did not stray. Boomer didn't have that. It's really satisfying to read a story where she got something, especially since I don't feel the series as a whole is gonna give us much resolution for Boomer either.

Or maybe it has to do with choice, and betrayal. Athena chose to betray her people to stay true to what (who) she held dearest, and she did it with eyes wide open knowing what it would cost her. Boomer was programmed to betray herself by her own people.

I love this bit. It really resonated. The fact that Boomer was a sleeper and Athena had awareness. In a way, I feel like that makes it harder for Adama to accept. If it's a choice, at least it's a choice. But you can't trust someone who doesn't even know their own loyalty.

if there’s anything left of the scared, gentle Raptor pilot, he can’t see it

This made me ache. Scared, gentle Boomer. Gentle. Through Adama's eyes, you showed how Boomer has changed. She's such a tragedy. Again, a shame that the show didn't delve more into that. Great, though, that you did. :)

(no subject)

Date: 2008-05-01 10:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I really liked how you had Bill Adama finally questioning some of his assumptions about Sharon Agathon and Boomer. I also thought it was realistic that this wasn't a 'happily ever after' kind of moment, though getting forgiveness obviously has meaning for Boomer. Well done!

and yes, it was totally unfair that yours was the only fic I recced without commenting! Time to remedy the situation. *g*

(no subject)

Date: 2009-01-29 03:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I love this! I really think that Boomer is one of the most tragic of all of the charater's on the show. Not only everything that happened to her, but i fear that the writers will abandon her as well.

I certainly don't expect any kind of happy ending, but I would love it if we saw Boomer again...

Hope you don't mind (does anyone?) I rec'd this story on my lj- one of those 'classic must read' type things. :)


beatrice_otter: Me in red--face not shown (Default)

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