Fandom: Battlestar Galactica
Disclaimer: Moore’s the man with the master plan.
Summary: This is not my usual style of fic, really. Tory hates New Caprica, Anders doesn’t want to die, and both of them consider the irony of getting to live until they die.
New Caprica is cold. Endlessly, not-quite-impossible, but close enough, consistently miserable weather. The air isn’t polluted, except that the town is, and so there’s this taint of human stupidity that smells of smoke and exhaust and mud and the faintest hint of shit.
To escape it, you have to like to walk out, down to the river. People come to the river all the time, dreaming of a planet where the summers would be about twenty or so degrees warmer, and the grass didn’t give about one in four of them rashes that itch like Hades. But it doesn’t smell and the water is clean and cold and fun to frak around in. There’s even some sand instead of mud, and smooth rocks, and so kids and factory workers take their breaks here.
Tory hates it. She was never anything but an urban woman in her long-dead life, and even though breathing non-recycled air is great, it’s not worth being forced to trudge through mud, to sleep in a cold tent, and to have no real job. If she wanted a place to hang out, she’d want a frakking coffee house, or a theater, or something. A ball court, and stupid people drinking by the river, looking for frogs is so very much not her thing.
Gods damn, she frakked it all up. If she were competent, they would be on their way, not cold all the time, not muddy all the time, not dying of whatever latest plague that’s been visited upon them. But Tory is clearly not competent at the task of stealing elections, or more accurately, she wasn’t smart enough to make sure those ballots were standardized.
So this is the consequence.
Part of her thinks she should feel worse about wanting to steal an election at all, but at this point, Tory is pretty damn sure that most people would have rather she’d just stolen it and done it right. Especially given that the one working institution on New Caprica is run by…one guess…Laura Roslin.
Laura Roslin who seems to be happy, in her own way. She occasionally goes out on “dates” with Admiral Adama, and she and that girl Maya play around a lot. Maya likes messing around in public, and one of the funniest things Tory’s seen on New Caprica was Maya deciding that what the schoolchildren of the town needed was to watch her dance.
Not just any dance, either, a club slink-and-gyrate that featured a lot of ass-shaking and joint flexibility. And that wasn’t even the super-funny part, because Maya’s maybe a bit over twenty-five, so why not dance? No, the hilarious part was that Maya grabbed Roslin by her wrists and begged her to dance with her.
And Roslin had laughed, and done it. The kids of course had immediately joined in, and it was dorky, adorable, and hilarious, but just watching cute, twisty little Maya and Laura Roslin doing the hands in the air thing? Especially when Maya had, for like two seconds, vamped Laura to show off? Tory could have eaten her own liver with private jealousy.
“You have the face of someone who hates her life,” someone says to her. It takes Tory a few seconds to recognize Sam Anders, but she does and gives him a wan smile. “Cold?”
“No, I’m frakking dying of the heat,” Tory says dryly. “Sorry. Hate this planet, and also jealous of another woman.”
Sam nods, as if he knows what she’s talking about. “Did she steal your man?” he asks.
“No, she stole my president,” Tory says. “My hot, empowering role-model president who she dorked out and then made adorable.”
He looks absolutely confused, and then he coughs. Tory edges away — she is not getting the death plague, even if Sam doesn’t look at all sick. Still, better safe than sorry and death plague was definitely sorry.
“Yeah, um, shit, I’m sorry, I don’t know what the frak you’re talking about,” he admits. “Did you work for Roslin or something?”
“Chief aide after Billy died,” Tory said. “I frakked up the election, and now I live on New Caprica for my sins. Also, I hooked Roslin up with that girl who teaches with her, and I am incredibly jealous.”
Anders looks way too much like Apollo for Tory’s brain to handle. Except for more confused and less interested in Roslin. And he keeps having tiny baby coughs that are creeping Tory out.
“Why are you jealous of another girl?” he says. “I mean. Uh, could we chalk that question up to man-stupidity?”
Tory shrugs. “You didn’t know President Roslin before the election, so I can get why you wouldn’t get jealousy,” she says with a half-shrug. “She’s just amazing, you know? Brilliant, practical, a good leader. I wanted to grow up and be her, and instead of going down in history, she gets wasted because of this stupid, stupid planet.”
Sam nods. “Oh. You’re in love with her,” he says. “Makes more sense now.”
“I guess,” Tory says, shifting uncomfortably. It was true, she guessed, but she didn’t like being so transparent to a not-so-bright stranger like Sam Anders. She’d never thought she was obvious, after all. “Why are you down here? You’re in big stupid love with Starbuck, right? You don’t have jealousy. Nor are you in love with a straight woman whose life you frakked up.”
“Town smells bad,” Sam says with a half-hearted shrug. “Plus, I think I have the death plague that people keep getting and no one will talk about.”
Tory nods. “I did notice the coughing,” she says uneasily. “Sorry. But I suppose you live until you die, right?”
“I guess,” he agrees. “But frak, you know? Didn’t die when the toasters bombed us. Didn’t die fighting those toasters for damn near a year. And so now I got some frakking plague that we don’t know shit about? I’m gonna go down coughing like an old man? I don’t know if you know what that’s like, but it’s frakked.”
Tory suddenly feels endlessly bad for this man, and even more guilty for all she’s done wrong. “I’m sorry,” she whispers. “It’s my fault, you know. If I’d done it right, Laura would be in charge still, and Cloud Nine wouldn’t have happened. We wouldn’t have this frakking plague.”
“What could you do, steal the election?” Sam asks, laughing and coughing. When Tory doesn’t say anything, he looks freaked out. “That would have been worse.”
“Yeah, tell me that when you’re frakking dead,” Tory says bitterly.
“Hey, just because you’re in love with an amazing woman doesn’t make her a goddess,” Sam replied. “I know something about that. I’m in love with someone as amazing as yours, but I don’t blame her for saving me so I could die like this.”
Tory hugs her arms around herself protectively — another tic she picked up from Laura — and looks out over the river.
“I frakking hate it here,” she whispers. “I don’t want to die here.”
“I suppose you live until you die, wherever you live,” he answers, shielding his eyes as he looks out over the river. “I gotta go. Kara’ll be missing me. Nice talking to you.”
“You, too,” Tory replies automatically. She hears his footsteps slowly crunching away, pausing every so often. She knows he wants her to walk back to town with him, that he’s a little worried about the stranger standing at the water’s edge, and he’d like her further away from that water than she is.
She understands — she worries about herself, too. Not so much that she’ll hurt herself. The water is frakking cold, and if she frakked it up, Cottle would yell at her for being a waste of his resources and she’d probably get the plague and die, anyway.
But Tory knows there’s reason to worry. She feels herself losing purpose, drifting away, staring at the water and watching it run pure and cold and teasing over the rocks of the riverbed.
Apropos of nothing, she leans down and picks up a stone, worn smooth and round by the water and stares at it. It is red-brown, cold, and surprisingly heavy in her hand. It fits so nicely there.
Tory puts it in her coat pocket, and then turns away from the water, to look up at the town. The weight is comforting, because she knows how easy either choice would be.
With the stone in her pocket and the weight dragging her slowly toward the earth beneath her feet, Tory walks away from the river.
For today, anyway.