Title: Life in Mono
Characters: Gaius, Boomer, Caprica
Pairing: Gaius/Boomer (this is an asexual pairing though)
SPOILERS: Up through Season 3 - "The Eye of Jupiter"
Summary: Baltar and Boomer are on the Cylon ship going to negotiate with the humans for the Eye of Jupiter. What would they talk about?
Author's Note: Thanks to wyrdwritere for the beta. This was inspired by my noticing that in Season 3, Boomer and Baltar never seem to talk to each other or even acknowledge each other, despite the fact that they were both on Galactica together and had some pretty intense interactions at the time.
Gaius was bursting with enough nervous energy to rival a nuke.
Caprica had kicked him out of yet another Cylon strategy meeting, with that straining, high-pitched, “Gaius!” It made her sound like a frustrated mother yelling at her ten-year-old son.
It was insulting, embarrassing, and it provoked in him the desire to lash out, to be spiteful. But the worst thing about it was, he didn’t dare do any of those things, not these days. Back during the last days of New Caprica, he might have had the guts, when the Cylons were less certain, more divided, when they actually began to maybe listen to his opinions on how to handle the human population; when they had treated him like the expert he was.
But nowadays, he was less than a puppet. He was nothing to them – a favorite toy, a caprice, he thought ruefully, of Caprica’s that the other Cylons were afraid to take away from her just yet. They feared it might break their consensus apart. But he knew that they were just waiting for him to waver enough in her favor. Worst of all, he saw this happening, every day a little more.
So he did the only thing he could think of to do in this situation: He stood on the periphery of their circle, arms crossed tightly, doing his best to telegraph righteous, wounded anger. Caprica merely flashed him an annoyed look, as if to say, ‘Grow up, Gaius’ and then returned to her discussion with the others. Scowling, he stalked off into the adjoining lounge.
Someone was already sitting there in one of the chairs. He stopped short at the door. It was one of the Eights, a model of the woman he had known on Galactica as Lieutenant Sharon Valerii.
“Hello,” he said cautiously, leaning his back into the doorway frame, head cocked back over his shoulder with a false amiability. She said nothing in return. In fact, she made a point of looking away.
This was perhaps not surprising. Ever since the Cylons had landed on New Caprica, none of the
“I, uh...” he ventured, manufacturing what experience told him was a charming smile, “I am surprised to not see you out there with the group, plotting away.”
She shrugged, looking for all the world like a sullen teenager. “They don’t trust my opinion on this one, I guess,” she said, still not deigning to look at him.
His eyes widened, and he understood. She was that
“Because you used to serve on Galactica,” he completed the thought.
Finally, she turned to look at him; her eyes were hard; they held his gaze only for a moment, then looked up the ceiling. “You’re a genius, Doctor.”
He threw himself into a chair next to her. “Yeah, thanks,” he said ironically. “I’m glad someone still thinks so.” This Sharon, and only this Sharon, was the only person he’d seen in months who still sometimes referred to him as ‘Doctor’. Other than Caprica, most of them didn’t even pay him the common courtesy of his first name. He was just “Baltar” to them, like it was a synonym for ‘burden.’
He peered at her out of the corner of his eye. Her body was completely stiff, her hands tightly gripping the chair. She had looked a bit like this back when she was a pilot, especially around the end, when she’d always looked like she was carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders. He half-wondered exactly what was upsetting her right now.
But Gaius didn’t do sympathy well with women, or with anyone for that matter. Despite being charming, articulate, and much smarter than anyone else he’d ever met, he had a hard time paying attention when women got like this– sentimental, brooding, angst-ridden. Generally, in these situations, he either extricated himself as quickly as possible, or else he tried distractions.
Hearing the growing clamor of the Cylons disagreeing in the other room, he decided to go with distraction. He bent his voice to reflect a small, prismatic ray of flirtatiousness.
“You know, there is something I always wondered about you back when we were on Galactica,” He wasn’t particularly attracted to her right now, but he could do this as easily as breathing.
“Oh yeah?” she said, refusing to look at him, sounding distinctly unimpressed. “What’s that?”
He turned his body around in the chair to better face her, to get in her space a bit.
“Why did they call you Boomer?” he said, his voice dripping innuendo. He knew it was inappropriate, but he figured it was a win-win situation: Either she’d flirt back, or she’d get up and leave in disgust. Both results would be fine, as far as he was concerned.
What he got back instead surprised him. Her eyes stayed gazing at the ceiling for a moment. “I know we’re going back to Galactica, but it’s a bit late to cash in that bet, isn’t it, Doctor Baltar?”
There was no trace of flirtation in her voice, nor disgust. What he heard was emotional tiredness. Well, he knew that feeling. He felt a twinge of shame at his own behavior, just a twinge.
“Uh, sorry,” he said, closing his eyes. “That was probably a stupid thing to say,” he added, after what he knew was too long a moment.
She sighed. “Whatever. Go frak yourself.”
He might have given up normally, but right now, he was feeling restless; and if there was one weakness he acknowledged in himself, it was that he couldn’t deal with people openly disliking him. On the rare occasion that this happened, he tended to become impulsive.
“Look,” he said a bit airily. “What is your problem with me, anyway? Of practically all the Cylon models, you’d think that you and I would have the most to talk about, and yet you seem to hold some sort of grudge against me. If you do, I want to know why.” He welcomed the self-righteous anger he felt coming over him; it was a well-worn technique for him, but almost always effective.
Not this time, though. She shot him a look of disbelief. “Quit frakking with me, Doctor. You have a lot of nerve saying that after all the things you’ve done to me.”
He gritted his teeth imperceptibly. He hated when women got like this, expecting him to be a mind reader, only then to punish him if he actually succeeded. He was not going to play this game for the entire trip to Galactica.. “What?” he pounced. “What did I ever do to you, anyway?”
She stared at him for a long time. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
His head jerked back reflexively. His arms crossed. He felt his tongue slip nervously in and out. “Tell you what?”
“You lied to me,” she said, “back on Galactica. About the Cylon test. Why did you do that, Doctor?”
He looked away. No use denying. Not now. “Uh …” he stammered. “Does it matter anymore?”
He looked down, eyes darting back and forth across the cold metallic floor of the basestar.
“I don’t … I … don’t know.” The words rushed out of him, tumbling and tripping. He found himself distracted by the act of remembering her then, the way she had smiled with such obvious relief when he’d told her the lie she so desperately wanted to hear.
“I was scared, I guess,” he said in a low voice. His chest felt tight, his throat dry, painful. “I was afraid you might be dangerous.”
“Is that why you told me to kill myself?” The question burst out of her. Clearly, she had been hanging onto it for a long time. He stared at her, unblinking, processing.
“Look,” he said finally, “whatever else you want to blame me for, I did not tell you to kill yourself. I merely told you to listen to your heart.”
“You also told me that there are some things worse than death.” Each word was pointed, accusing; it overwhelmed him.
“I … I didn’t know what you would do if I told you the truth about your nature. You might have killed me, snapped my neck before I knew what hit me. I was afraid you’d destroy the fleet.”
“Were you?” Her harsh laughter ran him through like a sword. “You know what, Doctor? So was I.”
His head smacked the back of the chair. He closed his eyes. So many mistakes, he thought.
So many mistakes since the destruction of Caprica. And yet, none of them had been his fault, not really. What was he supposed to have done? Go around telling President Roslin that well yes, it was true he’d been in a romantic relationship with a Cylon just before the Attacks, but that he hadn’t actually known it? Or that an imaginary version of said Cylon lover was constantly in his head, chattering at him about his destiny to help the Cylons supersede the human race? That Hera was actually his baby, and that his imaginary lover was threatening to kill him if he didn’t keep their hybrid baby alive at all costs?
“If you were so worried about me, then why didn’t you tell anyone?”
He let his sigh roll out at her – loud, hostile. The truth was, he didn’t exactly remember why anymore. He’d like to think it was out of some kind of compassion; she hadn’t known what she was, at least not until close to the end; of that, he was sure.
“Maybe I just didn’t want it on my conscience that I’d gotten an otherwise nice young woman tossed out an airlock,” he snapped. “Besides, if you were so concerned about it, then why didn’t you say anything?”
Was that really what he was hearing? He opened his eyes in dread. He’d just made her cry.
He hated when women cried. It made him feel helpless, incompetent, completely unequipped. It reminded him of his mother, and he’d made it a personal rule ever since leaving Arielon to avoid thinking about her. He tried telling himself that she was a machine and it wasn’t the same, but he knew that that argument was pointless. He didn't think that way anymore. Hadn't for a long time.
“Wait,” he finally said, his voice conceding quiet defeat. “Don’t do that, please. Look, I’m sorry, all right? I didn’t mean to…”
She angrily wiped away her tears, trying to regain her composure.
“I just wanted it all to go away,” she said through gritted teeth, turning away, obviously trying to hide her sniffling. “It was all so unfair. I never meant to hurt anyone. And then suddenly, I found out I was the enemy. I knew if I told anyone, they’d just stop seeing me. They’d toss me out an airlock, like I’d never been one of them.”
He knew that feeling too.
Ever since he boarded Galactica after the Attacks, ever since they’d jailed him – after the ‘Shelly Godfrey’ incident – he’d saw it clearly: He would always be a single, narrow thread away from being tossed out an airlock, categorized and labeled a traitor to all of humanity as neatly as he used to organize his test tubes. They would never listen to him, never see nuances in what he’d done, the choices he’d made to try and correct matters. No. He’d just become toaster lover and that would be the end of it.
It had been months now. The woman in his head, whatever she had been, was never coming back. And without her, what did he have left? Her flesh and blood counterpart was a disappointment, and clearly he was to her as well. He had no place in her society, and his own people were never going to take him back. Not now.
Thinking back to his time on Galactica, he wondered why he’d gone to so much trouble to run away from being found out, just for the privilege of being allowed to keep running.
“You know, there are times when I wish you’d just let me die on Caprica?” he spoke softly into the air, eyes shut tight, “that your partner hadn’t spotted me in that crowd.”
He could hear her startle at that. “Yeah,” she said after several seconds, sounding like the voice had been stolen out of her. “I know what you mean.”
He straightened up in his seat, all in one sudden move, and confronted her. “You didn’t have to go on this mission,” he insisted. “You didn’t have to go back to Galactica at all. None of the other
She stared back at him with dull, lifeless brown eyes. “I’m not sure,” she said with a barely perceptible shudder, but Gaius saw it. “To get one last look at my old life, I guess?”
His eyes widened with surprise.
“Yes,” he said softly, after a moment. “I suppose I can understand that.”
As if it had a mind of its own, Gaius felt his hand reach out across the space between them, and rest upon the arm of her chair. His eyes closed again, and he sighed with a world-weary exhaustion.
It took a while, but then, in a single moment, her hand was there – fingers so soft, he refused to believe that any man could have fabricated them. They interlaced with his own. Her touch was tentative, like an aura hovering around his hand.
The two of them stayed that way in silence, hands woven together with the delicacy of silken threads, until they felt the ship dock with Galactica.