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Fandom: Battlestar Galactica (Re-Imagined Series)
Rating: PG-13 (for a little violence and some swearing)
Characters: Gaius, Caprica, Lee, Helo, Sharon, Hera, Kara (sort of), and Cottle. Brief cameos by Jeanne, Derrick, Saul, and Ellen. Also, a small assortment of Centurion OCs (only two with prominent roles), a native OC, and a few OC colony children
Pairings: Gaius/Caprica, Helo/Sharon, hints of Lee/Kara
Genres: Character Study, Angst, Hurt/Comfort, Friendship, Fluff, Spirituality, and a smidge of Romance
Warnings: Animal attacks and related injuries. Also, HIGHLY INTROSPECTIVE AND PHILOSOPHICAL, especially the first half of the first chapter and most of the third. (Some people hate that stuff, so I give warning! XD)
Spoilers: The entire series, as this is a post-"Daybreak, Part 2" (series finale) tag.
Length: 6 chapters — over 28,500 words (around 54 pages)
Summary: Answers the question "What becomes of Gaius Baltar, Caprica Six, the Agathon family, and Lee Adama, after the colonies settle on Earth?" One night, seven years after landing, they get together and reminisce about an event that occurred a few months after Galactica reached Earth....
Notes: I really enjoyed the finale of the series, and feel it ended just fine, but fic-wise, I wanted to take things a little further as far as the characters' personal stories went. Baltar is my fave character, and redemption is one of my fave story themes, especially when enemies become friends (and extra-especially when that involves hurt/comfort). I enjoy philosophical discourse on the nature of God/good & evil/morality/how things are never really one-sided, too. Basically this fic is about how Baltar comes to see himself when all is said and done, as well as how others come to see him — and how they come to see themselves through interaction with him. Also, I was always annoyed by the lack of meaningful interaction with the Centurions on the show, so in my version of the future, some Centurions chose to stay behind. Also, I'm a happy-endings kind of gal, big time, so it's sappy. XD (Although it's not a happy ending for the lion in the story. And I'm a Leo! Shame on me!) Hey, this is fanfic — I'm not getting paid to do it, so of course it's self-indulgent. But I hope people will find it entertaining anyway. ;) And finally, many thanks to my friend Dennis for inadvertently giving me an idea of something to do with Kara.
Soundtrack: (This is what I listened to while writing, to put me in the mood, not songs for specific scenes.) Jamie Cullum's "The Simple Life"; Carolina Liar's "Coming to Terms", "Show Me What I'm Looking For", "Simple Life", "Something to Die For", "Beautiful World", "California Bound", and "Done Stealin'"; and Take That's "Rule the World"
Disclaimer: Baltar, Caprica, Lee, Helo, Sharon, Hera, Cottle, Tigh, Ellen, Adama, Jeanne, Derrick, Paula, Gaeta, Galen, Roslin, D'Anna, the concept of the Centurions, skinjobs, Cylons in general, and the Galactica all belong to Ronald D Moore & David Eick/SyFy/SkyOne/Universal Television.


Chapter 1: Seven Years Later ...

"A cottage small is all I'm after,
Not one that's spacious and wide
A house that rings with joy and laughter,
With the ones that you love inside ...."
~Jamie Cullum, "The Simple Life"

Gaius Baltar set down his garden hoe and wiped his brow with the back of his hand. He smiled gratefully as his companion handed him a flask — just water, but at the moment, it tasted better than any wine or scotch he could remember. Like with many other things he had once abhorred in his life — faith, monogamy, anonymity, just to name those of the widest scope — Gaius had, over the last seven years, learned to appreciate hard labour and the purity of the simple, natural world.

Which was not to say that he didn't still enjoy a drink that was a little more complicated than water now and then. Nor was it to say that, since his heart and body were true to Caprica, his eyes were somehow blind to any fine curve that didn't belong to her.

And while he did indeed believe in God these days, it was mostly, as he had once told Cavil, as an unstoppable force of nature, not something to be looked to with the expectation that it would solve your every problem, nor something to be blamed if things went wrong. It was, he felt, something to be danced with, a partner in a celestial tango. God led, and it was up to you to go with the flow or else stumble and fall. Perhaps God could have saved Derrick on his — her? its? — own, but he didn't; it had taken Gaius begging and offering himself in the child's stead, taking up his own role in the dance, for God to act.

Or, in a broader scope, God was the choreographer, the playwright; everyone had a part to play, but some had bigger roles than others. God could plan all he wanted, but it was the dancers, the actors, who literally put that plan into motion. It was up to the players to dance, to speak their roles, or to stand still and silent; the whole performance hinged on their decisions as much as God's, if not more. Would they dance with others, or dance alone? Would they pick up the fallen, or dance around them? Would they keep to the program or break formation, speak the lines or improvise? Once the curtain was drawn, it was pretty much out of out of God's hands; the celestial Director could only do so much, working from backstage. And if it was true that all had happened before, that this same show was performed over and over, how much changed? Were there new "stars" every time, or did some of them play the same parts again and again? Was the show a success, or was God still fine-tuning it? In any case, as far as Gaius was concerned, this performance, this particular act, this scene was what mattered, and he kept his focus on it, not dwelling on the missteps he'd made or worrying about scenes yet to come. He would put his faith in his costars and the Director, do his best to fulfill his own role, and trust that everything would lead to a happy ending. Because, really, what else was there to do?

Gaius and his wife, Caprica, might once have been chosen by God for a purpose, but whether or not to follow through with that purpose, and precisely how, had, he believed, been up to them. In fact, Gaius suspected that God had actually chosen him in the first place because Gaius had been corrupt, not a saint. That was, he was corrupt enough to help bring about the "end" of humanity, however unintentionally — yet was still loving enough to want to make amends for that act and help humanity start over. Destruction begat creation; the two supposed opposites went hand-in-hand, enabling each other. Not that that excused what ill Gaius had done in his life, exactly, but it helped him to remember that even one's bad moments could serve a greater purpose.

And despite all their flaws, Gaius and Caprica had also been the first to look past the differences between Cylon and human, the first, even before Helo and Sharon, to see the opposing side as being a gathering of people and get beyond their own prejudice enough to work with, even care for, the so-called enemy. True, their acceptance of each other may have begun for the poorest of reasons — they'd used each other. And it didn't change the fact that Gaius had basically handed his people over to those intent on murdering them, but at least the first time was an accident, and the second time he'd been hoping they might work towards peace. That willingness to cooperate and not simply see anyone as a two-dimensional had paved the way for human-Cylon peace — eventually. If the road to Hell was paved with good intentions, then perhaps the road to Heaven was, by necessity, paved with bad ones?

Of course, that fact didn't make the things he'd done any less reprehensible. They might have been what he was "fated" to do, but that didn't make the actions any less wrong. In fact, once upon a time, he'd been drowning in guilt, knowing what he'd done was wrong, believing he was worthless. Then he'd convinced himself that he'd only done what God wanted, so that meant he hadn't done anything wrong and had nothing to be held accountable for. He'd been floating comfortably on that excuse, no longer weighed down by his emotional burden, but he wasn't really a better person for it. Now he'd found the middle ground, feet solidly on the pool's bottom but head above water: You had to be truly sorry for the wrong you'd done, and never forget it, but at the same time, you also had to forgive yourself enough to believe in yourself, to believe you could do better, in order to be able to move on and do better.

In any case, now that God was, for the most part, done with guiding them through hoops and past crossroads, Gaius and his wife now enjoyed a relationship with It that was more along the lines of (mostly) quiet companionship, the epilogue to their story. Gaius and Caprica simply accepted whatever each day brought — there was no bowing and scraping to a higher power in hopes of getting what they wanted, nor fist-shaking and cursing when things didn't go their way  — just gratitude for each hard-earned moment together, good and bad.

Unfortunately, even after all this time, the Cult of Gaius still couldn't quite understand what their reluctant leader himself had come to realize. They still clung to the concept of prostration, to the security blanket sort of comfort that came with seeking salvation through an outside power rather than an inner one. And they clung to Gaius himself. Those followers (and they were followers, whether he liked it or not) had multiplied exponentially.

Yes, Gaius appreciated anonymity now — he just didn't have it.

Not that he didn't also appreciate fame — God knew he had an ego the size of Caprica. (The planet, not his wife. Either planet, old or new, really.) But feeding that ego had cost him dearly, time and time again. Every time he'd accepted fame, be it as a scientist, a president, or a cult leader, he'd suddenly found himself responsible for the lives of countless others.

Which might have been all right, if he had been up to the job, but he wasn't, not most of the time — he'd always been too much of a coward, even if the reasons for his fears had altered some over the years. And, admittedly, he'd gotten a little better with his fears in general, but still, he tried (unsuccessfully, alas) to avoid finding himself in a position of that kind of responsibility again, afraid that he would abuse the power and screw things up like he had on New Caprica. God had let it happen — no, had wanted it to happen once before, because doing so had served Its purpose; why not again? But Gaius didn't want to be an instrument of destruction, no matter how cleansing for the universe, ever again. He hoped God had let him change roles, from villain to hero, but he wasn't entirely sure he had. And so there was this underlying fear every time he had to go to the Quorum that others might suffer, even die, because of his decisions.

It was the only fear he was proud of having — and he lived with it every day, no matter what the angels had said about his and Caprica's lives being less eventful. If people could change their minds, why not God? Who knew what "eventful" was, anyway?

Ruffling golden curls and placing a sound kiss on top of his companion's head as he returned the flask, Gaius knew that, at least in some cases, he wouldn't want it any other way.

"Gaius! Adam! Dinner!"

"Be there after we wash up, dear," Gaius called back to his wife, a loving smile in his voice as well as on his lips.

He turned the smile at his son, beside him. "You first," he said, giving the boy a gentle nudge towards their solar-powered electric water pump. They had indoor plumbing, the settlement's preliminary planning council having decided that water management wasn't so very technological as to lead to the destruction of mankind again. It helped that Cottle insisted that it was important for the health of the community. But at the Baltar homestead, it didn't matter much that they had indoor plumbing; Caprica would have a fit if they tracked dirt into the house on their way to the sink! So they used the pump outside to rinse the worst off after a day in the field. Gaius watched as the six-year-old ran to the well, the lad sure-footed despite his work-boots being a bit too big for him. Adam would grow into them soon enough — too soon, Gaius felt, but then he supposed every parent did. He watched proudly, from a distance, as the boy quite capably operated the turnkey on the pump's tap. Adam liked to do things for himself, and while Gaius did try to impress upon the boy that it was okay to ask for help now and then, he also felt the boy's independent, self-reliant spirit would serve him well — and hopefully make him a better man than Gaius ever was.

Gaius then noted the sound of a machine still going behind him; he was so used to the sound, despite the fact that they had no other machinery, that it had taken him a moment to realise that the sound should have stopped by then. "Hey!" he said with a laugh, patting the "rose-and-vine"-decorated shoulder-plate of a Cylon Centurion. "You, too, Galatea! Time to call it quits."

The Centurion pointed to the patch of ground that had yet to be tilled.

Gaius shook his head, grinning ruefully. "Such a workaholic. Well, it's up to you in the end, but we are several days ahead of schedule already, thanks to you, and we'd miss you at the table ...." Never mind that she couldn't eat or speak; a friend was a friend, and the presence of one was always welcome — especially when he'd known so few true friends most of his life.

Galatea looked at the ground a moment, then shrugged, nodding, and began walking towards the well.

When Gaius and Caprica had first started tilling their chosen plot of land all those years ago, they had worked alone for the first week, even going so far as to pull a makeshift plow together. And really, Gaius wouldn't have traded the days he'd worked closely with Caprica, like a pair of oxen in a yoke, for anything. He'd enjoyed just being near her, for one thing — always had and always would. For another, that had been the first time in his life that he'd really understood the pride his father had evinced over being a farmer; seeing the earth turned and knowing that soon it would be a field of food for their people filled him with awe, humbled him, even now, seven years later. How had he not seen the beauty in that when he was a boy — or as an adult, for that matter?

Still, the work was hard; soon they'd had blisters and were so sore they'd eventually had to stop for an entire day! Yes, even Caprica, with her Cylon stamina, had eventually felt the strain and needed to rest. But before she reached that point, Gaius had refused to let her work alone if he could help it, pushing himself to the limit until he would collapse each night, and Caprica would work while he slept. They'd worked themselves into a stupor, knowing that they would need grains soon enough, the fleet's supply slowly dwindling, and knowing that all across the settlement people were struggling just as hard.

And then Galatea had shown up one day. She just went to work beside them, without any prompting, doing at least twice the work of both of them combined, and without tiring.

Gaius hadn't recognised her, of course, but a short, inaudible conversation between her and Caprica had revealed that the then-nameless Centurion had actually met Gaius on the rebel baseship, just before a blast had nearly killed him. Gaius had assumed that Galatea had been destroyed in that blast, but just as Roslin had fixed him up, so too, Galatea's fellow Centurions had fixed Galatea.

The Centurion, through Caprica, had said that remembered how Gaius had spoken to her (well, okay, it, but it was hard not to think of her as female with that name, and she didn't mind), how he had encouraged her to believe that the Centurions were just as important to God as their flesh-and-blood counterparts, and that the "skinjobs" had been mistreating them. While most humans at the time had hated even the human-looking Cylons, there were some who did accept the skinjobs — yet even those more open-minded humans had still seen the metal Centurions as only contemptible "toasters". And Gaius had been right: some of the skinjobs themselves, particularly Cavil, had indeed treated the Centurions as lesser beings, slaves to be used and abused. So a human that had spoken to Galatea as an equal, particularly at a time when it wasn't at all ... fashionable to do so, was, she felt, someone worth knowing better. Of course, Gaius knew he'd been full of his own self-importance, not acting entirely altruistically, when he'd said such things to Galatea, but that fact didn't change the truth of what he'd said. In fact, he himself had believed it — and still did. He also believed that the Centurions had souls.

Caprica Six, too, was something of a hero to the Cylons as a whole, and every Six was considered a friend to the Centurions. All Cylons were familiar the part Gaius and Caprica had played together, as the protectors of Hera, towards the salvation of both races. Galatea in particular, thanks to her own experience, felt her best chance of knowing God and what role she could play in the future was to know the pair of them, the two who spoke to angels. And if they were staying on this new Earth, why should she leave it? What more was there to seek in the corporeal heavens than was already there on the new Earth? That was what she had said to Caprica that first day in the field.

When the bulk of the Centurions had jumped away in the rebel baseship, a few handfuls had stayed, feeling, like Galatea, that all they wanted was there on Earth, and also being reluctant to leave the skinjobs — their kin — behind. Though machines, not flesh and blood, they proved to care about their "family" as easily as their almost-human cousins.

But a good many of the humans had balked at allowing the Centurions to remain in their new veritably technology-less society. In the end, it was Saul and Ellen Tigh who reminded the preliminary council (before the new Quorum was chosen) that the Centurions had free will, and therefore as much right to choose their home and destiny as any skinjob. That was why they had given the other Centurions the baseship in the first place, after all, rather than sending it into the sun with Anders. Bu while the issue of whether or not the Centurions could stay on Earth was settled that first day, it took a week more of the Tighs championing them before the council finally agreed that they should be free to roam where they pleased, rather than being made to stay in designated areas with skinjob keepers.

That was when Galatea had finally sought Gaius and Caprica out. Another Centurion stayed with the Tighs, while a third went to live with Sharon and Helo and Hera, and a forth went with Tyrol (though he balked at the idea, only agreeing to appease Ellen). Like Tyrol, Apollo had refused such company at first, but after Gaius pointed out how much of a comfort it would be to the people if they at least knew he was all right during his travels, and that they could reach him if the need arose, he relented as well. (It probably helped that the one who wanted the job had, it turned out, apparently gotten Lee's back during that final battle on the enemy baseship.) Two Centurions stayed with Doc Cottle, who used them as an ambulance service of sorts. Eventually, after Lee found his father again, they (Lee, Gaius, Cottle, the Agathons, and the Tighs) all badgered Bill Adama into accepting a Centurion sentry of his own. And each member of the Quorum (once they was finally chosen, months later) found themselves with one as well. The rest of the Centurions, another few dozen, made their homes with the various Twos, Sixes, and Eights.

The Centurions were never forced to serve, never treated as property, but they were eager to aid, to prove their value and willingness to be part of the community. Galatea once said that there was a world of difference between being forced to serve and choosing to — and that God has put them all there, human and Cylon alike, with the expectation that they serve each other. With Centurion aid, farms and towns were quickly raised. And thanks to their wireless connection, the colonies were able to keep in contact with Lee and Bill Adama; they hadn't completely lost their heroes, their true leaders.

Of course, some would argue that Gaius and Caprica were both heroes and leaders as well, never mind what had happened on New Caprica. Gaius sighed heavily as he spotted one such individual coming up the hill, her young teen son by her side.

"Gaius!" Jeanne called as she spotted him in turn, waving.

He waved back only half-heartedly, but Jeanne, along with every other member of his cult (as Helo still called it) never seemed to notice his reticence. Her son, Derrick, however, did notice, and offered Gaius a smirk of sympathy.

"Derrick," Gaius nodded, an answering smirk tugging at his lips.

"Shawna had her baby!" Jeanne cheerfully revealed. "She was hoping—"

"—that I would come bless it," Gaius finished, having heard the request a hundred times before. "Jeanne, I don't know how many times I can tell you all that God is pretty much done with me — I have no special powers or anything. My blessings mean no more—"

"—than anyone else's, I know," Jeanne replied with a twinkle in her eye. "Well, it certainly won't hurt you to try, Gaius," she chided gently. "Even if you don't believe in your own Grace, we have faith, and that's enough. And if something should happen to the child despite your blessing, we won't blame you."

But if he didn't bless the child and something happened to it, they definitely would blame him, he reckoned. In any case, they'd had this conversation a million times already, and it pretty much ended the same way every time.

"All right," he agreed, sighing. "Would you like to stay for dinner?" he added politely.

He would have thought that the last person Caprica would want at their table would be a member of his former "harem", as she called it, but she had chastised him for not being hospitable the first time one of them came by. So he'd extended a dinner invitation to every visitor — which usually turned out to be Jeanne — ever since. He would swear he could hear Caprica's teeth grinding through her brittle smile each time, but she was as gracious a hostess as anyone could be, and never even complained later — although she would at least agree with his own grumblings when their company was gone.

And as the years went by, there was another reason to make Jeanne welcome at their table: Derrick. He was a good kid, and Adam looked up to the lad like a big brother. Case in point, Adam was almost to the door but came hurrying back when he'd heard Jeanne call out, and had reached them just as Gaius was inviting them to dinner.

"Pleeease stay, Auntie Jeannie!" the child begged.

Jeanne agreed with a smile, smoothing the boy's hair. Gaius softened towards her a little; she really was a good person, the annoying blind devotion to him aside. He wondered if God ever got similarly annoyed with It's most devout followers ....

After letting Jeanne and Derrick wash the dust of their journey off, he and Galatea took their turns, and they all headed towards the house together. Caprica had come back to the door, probably to find out what the holdup was. He wondered if Derrick noticed the wince Caprica gave when she laid eyes on the boy's mother. Jeanne herself most certainly hadn't.

The dark-haired baby in Caprica's arms gave a cheerful gurgle, apparently happier to see their guest than either of her parents were. Or maybe she was just ignoring Jeanne in favour of Derrick. As he took his daughter in his arms, Gaius suddenly realised that someday he was going to have to worry about the presence of boys around her.

Epiphanies like that were killer on the appetite.

Fortunately, the smell of whatever had been roasted for dinner revived it. Gaius followed the scent into the kitchen and dining area — and found more surprise guests. Helo, Sharon, Hera, and their own camouflage-painted Centurion, Pandora, were there, as well as Hera's younger brother, Sam. It wasn't actually a shock to find them there, as they'd likely brought the animal Caprica had roasted, but it was odd that they hadn't stopped in the field to say hello when they'd arrived. Or rather, it would have been, if not for the other guests he found in his house, who had likely accompanied them. Lee Adama and his starscape-painted Centurion companion, Starbuck, were the true surprise; their neighbors had probably snuck the pair in through the back door, surprising Caprica first.

Gaius smiled warmly and, babe still in one arm, gave a one-armed embrace with the other, first to Lee and then to the Centurion.

Lee and Gaius had had their differences in the past, to be sure, but as Lee had told the fleet on the day of their arrival, life on this new Earth was meant to be a clean slate, and so they'd let bygones be bygones. And, well, Lee's having saved Gaius from being executed had to count for something, even if Lee hadn't at all liked Gaius at the time. It also helped that Lee had come to look at Gaius with new eyes after the role Gaius had played in the final battle.

Just as Gaius had talked Lee into letting a Centurion accompany him, so Lee had talked Gaius into being the representative for "his" people in the new Quorum. Gaius had actually hoped it would be Paula, but the other Quorum members wouldn't hear of it. Gaius and Lee had laughed over the irony; just before the battle, Gaius had been begging Lee to allow his people to have representation in the government, even saying that it didn't even have to be him, but Lee had been hung up on just how much he didn't trust Gaius that he had refused!

The miracle of Kara Thrace, risen from the dead to guide them home, had helped to sway people about Gaius, particularly as Kara's miracle had physical evidence to back it up, showing that miracles did, in fact, happen. With that knowledge, people gave new credence to the story that the Cult of Gaius had told of how he had saved Derrick's life by begging God to take his own; the coincidence of timing between the assassination attempt and the boy's recovery could not be so easily dismissed. Still, though, Lee was not convinced by that himself.

Then Lee had seen Gaius join the effort to rescue Hera. And later, Lee and the people had heard from the elder Adama how Gaius (and Caprica) had found and protected the girl, and how eloquently Gaius had pleaded with Cavil for a truce. Coupling that with the other passionate speeches that they had all heard Gaius give in the past, many opinions regarding ex-president Baltar had done a veritable one-eighty, from abhorrence to acceptance. (There were exceptions, of course, but that was yet another way Galatea had proved to be valuable: protection.) The man who had saved Hera and shown such growth as a human being could now, Lee had insisted, give the people the hope and guidance they needed — and the very fact that Gaius didn't want the job only convinced Lee more that Gaius was the best candidate! So with his followers settling to the east of his homestead, Gaius became their reluctant Quorum representative. (Of course, if Jeanne had her way, Gaius would be a full-time priest, as well.)

As time went on, Gaius and Lee, had gotten to know each other, working side by side both in the fields and in the Quorum to build a new home for their people. Their newly-found mutual respect had quickly blossomed into friendship, much as it had between Gaius and Caprica and their neighbors, the Agathons.

Gaius saw Lee notice Jeanne; Lee then gave Gaius a quick grin, having often heard Gaius gripe about the demands of his cult in general and this woman in particular. Gaius gave him a rueful smile in return.

Then Lee's eyes fell on the baby, and the man's smile grew wistful. Gaius felt a pang of sorrow for his friend, hoping that the child's name, Kara Roslin, didn't serve as a painful reminder of what Lee — or Bill — had lost. It just had felt right at the time ....

"Can I hold her?" Lee asked.

"Of course," Gaius replied, readily handing his precious child over. There weren't many people that he felt comfortable letting hold her, but this man had earned the right more than most. "Do you remember this guy? He's an explorer, so we don't get to see him much, which means its all the more special when we do! His name is Lee, and he's your Godfather," he explained to her.

Lee looked shocked, then touched, to hear the role he was to play in the little girl's life, much as he had when he'd learned the name of Gaius and Caprica's son, who was named for both of the Adamas, heroes of the fleet.

"Hello, Kara," Lee greeted the 8-month-old softly, bouncing her gently. Gaius pretended not to notice the glint of tears in his friend's eyes. "Oh, I'm going to spoil you rotten," Lee promised, kissing her brow.

Looking at the scar that ran down the side of Lee's face, a souvenir from one of the man's "adventures", Gaius hoped that Lee's promise meant that the man would be home more often. He glanced at Caprica, Helo, and Sharon; their expressions suggested that they were all thinking the exact same thing — and Gaius suspected that the Centurion trio were as well.

Jeanne, though, not really being a member of their little "family" — well, okay, being more like a distant cousin — apparently was not having such thoughts. (Sometimes Gaius wondered if she had any thoughts at all, really.) "So, what sorts of adventures did you have this time?" she asked eagerly as they settled down to eat outside.

And so they spent the next few hours listening to those tales, captivated; even little Kara looked like she was enthralled. Gaius glanced at his son, worried. While he wanted his son to be whatever the boy wanted to be when he grew up, at the same time he hoped that the boy — or Kara, for that matter — wouldn't choose to follow in "Uncle" Lee's footsteps, be it literally or figuratively. Then again, living at the homestead had its fair share of dangers, he supposed.

He winced in sudden pain; the promise of rain was in the wind, and the change in barometric pressure made bones that had once been broken ache in memory of their former splintered state. Granted, he had, arguably, been on an adventure when they'd gotten that way, but he'd been only about ten miles from the homestead when it had happened ....

"You all right?" Helo asked lowly while Lee continued regaling the children with a story. Helo's eyes held the same apology they always did whenever he witnessed Gaius massaging his collarbone.

Gaius nodded reassuringly, but Helo was already addressing his daughter at that point. "That reminds me — Hera, go get the balm for Uncle Gaius."

Giving her "Uncle" a guilty look, Hera hurried off to the porch, where a bag sat.

"You brought more?" Gaius asked in relief.

Helo nodded. "We came across the nomads late this morning, thank the Gods — I ran out last week."

"Well, you get my thanks for getting me some, too — I finished my own supply off a month ago," Gaius told him, smiling as he accepted a small container from Hera. It contained a balm made from plants that grew much farther north. Gaius supposed he could get Lee to bring him some, and figure out the balm's other ingredients and the process used to make it, but it was easier just to trade for it — provided one could find the nomads and they had a batch ready.

"I know, Caprica told me the other day — you should have said something sooner!" Helo chided him with a pained but affectionate expression.

"I forgot — I hadn't really needed it over the summer, the weather's been so pleasant," Gaius explained, brushing the concern aside as he tousled Hera's dark locks affectionately.

She smiled back at him, but the guilt still clouded her eyes, just as it did Helo's — and Sharon's, he knew, having spotted the woman giving Caprica the same pensive, apologetic look, one that really belonged more on a kicked puppy than their dearest friends.

He sighed internally at the Agathons. Caprica took the jar from him, then drew his shirt open and down his arms a ways. He let out a veritable purr of gratitude as she began to massage the wondrous substance into his aching shoulders.

But really, even without the balm, some occasional aches and pains were a small price to pay: the incident that had caused them had ended happily, with solid relations formed between their people and the nearby natives, so Gaius counted the whole experience as worthwhile. Like with how some of the mistakes Gaius had made in his life had led to positive ends, so too had the fateful mistakes Hera and her parents had once made. He told her that she had been too little to understand she danger she'd wandered into at the time, and therefore wasn't at fault, told her that all that had occurred had doubtless been God's plan. He also tried to assure her parents that such things happen sometimes, that they, having been asleep when she'd wandered off, weren't to blame, but here they were, six years later, and the events of that day still haunted them. Caprica, too, felt needless guilt over her own role. All that in turn made Gaius feel bad that the ones he cared for should feel that way over something that had happened to him.

Gaius remembered a few stories where one person would save someone's life and end up with the saved person waiting on them, hand and foot, to the point where the savior wanted to throttle the person they'd saved. Inevitably, the savior pretended to be in trouble so that the person they'd saved needed to save them in turn, making them even. Gaius was sometimes tempted to try that himself, but he didn't think that his friends or wife would ever stop feeling guilty, even if they'd saved his life thrice over!

Before long, the balm and Caprica's soothing fingers made him forget all about his concern for (and frustration with) her and the Agathons — as well as the pain in his shoulders, the fact that they had company (one of them not terribly wanted), and practically even his own name. He got to enjoy the sensation for all of a minute.

Then Adam had to go and ask how his father had gotten the scars on his shoulder.

It wasn't that the boy hadn't seen them before, but Gaius supposed the child hadn't been old enough to understand until now that they'd been caused by something rather than being just a natural part of his father. Listening to Lee's stories of how the man had acquired his own scars just now had probably helped Adam finally make the mental leap from just knowing that his father was scarred to wondering if Gaius had been through a harrowing, possibly heroic ordeal. Thing was, most people would probably say the that boy would be right to assume the scars involved heroism, even if Gaius couldn't help but think, however much he was tempted to let his ego bask in the glory, anyone with even half a heart would have done what he had. (Then again, part of him feared that they were simply saying that what he'd done was heroic for someone like him ....)

Gaius eyed the Agathons out of his peripheral, trying to think of how to reply. He could feel the sudden tension in his wife's fingers; he looked her way and found her just as at a loss. He supposed he would have to tell his son sooner or later, but perhaps he was still to young yet? They were having such a nice night, even with Jeanne there; he'd hate to make things uncomfortable for his friends, especially little Hera. How would Adam knowing that his father had nearly died saving her affect the children's friendship? Then again, knowing (thanks to Jeanne's big mouth) that Gaius had begged God to take his life in exchanged for Derrick's hadn't affected Adam's friendship with Derrick. But that could just be because Adam was too young to understand — maybe everything would fall apart when he was finally old enough ....

Hera herself took the decision out of his hands.

"Your dad got hurt saving my life," she told Adam softly. Though she was always quiet, she had no trouble speaking when it mattered. Words flowed from her lips now as she began the tale, Gaius and the others adding to the current now and then. Memories flooded back to Gaius with the stream of sound ....

(To be continued ...)
Chapter 2: [link]
Chapter 3: [link]
Chapter 4: [link]
Chapters 5 & 6: [link]

Post-Chapter Notes:

On the off chance that you missed the episodes or have forgotten the details ...

Galatea is meant to be the Centurion that Gaius spoke to on the baseship, just before getting a near-fatal wound in an explosion, in the episode "The Hub".

Jeanne and Derrick are the mother and the son with a serious illness from the episode "He That Believeth in Me."

The miracle of Kara Thrace, aka Starbuck, is that they found her dead remains on the Cylon Earth, yet she was alive and well at the time -- resurrected by "God" (the details are unknown) to lead the humans and Cylons to a new Earth (which she did).

I know Roslin's first name is Laura, but I thought Kara Roslin sounded pretty. :) And given all the forgiveness going around at the end of the series, and they got along well enough to work together in "No Exit", that between her saving his life in "The Hub" and the bond she shared with Caprica, the Baltars' naming their daughter for her isn't far-fetched.

As for the Baltar's having kids, Caprica almost had a child once already -- I figure a hybrid would be easier to carry, and that, as the Cylons believed when they paired up Sharon and Helo, love makes a difference. Yes, the boy being named Adam is a little joke based on the fact that Hera is called "Mitochondrial Eve".

There's not a lot of detail about the mechanics of Centurions and skinjobs out there on the net, so for the purposed of this story, we'll assume that the Centurions don't need some sort of tower to maintain their network -- or if they do, that they're able to easily make them. Also assume that their communications ability is far-reaching (it would have to be, if they were communicating with a ship in orbit from all around a planet) and that they can recharge with solar power or some other easily-renewed resource.

The bulk of my research for this fic was done at Battlestar Wiki [link] and IMDB [link] and by simply watching episodes. :)

The rest *is* written, I just have to do the final edits. I should be posting more throughout the weekend.

You may also be interested in seeing the full-version of painting I did of Baltar (and the accompanying story of meeting James Callis): [link]
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