Four Ways to Survive a New World (The Jackson Town Remix)

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by templemarker

Notes: Written for Remix/Redux IV: I Know What You Did Last Remix. Original wicked awesome Multiverse story was Five Reasons Why Han Quit the Academy by Magelette/Kara. Rated R.


Two pilots walk into a bar. One goal: to get as fucked (frakked, she can’t get the vowels right for this frakking universe) up as possible. She sees him when he first walks in, cocky but tired, looking for a reason to take his mind off his troubles. Kara didn’t want to bother; she was frakking tired, too, and he had some of the same look she saw in the mirror every morning.

It’s a big damn universe out there, way bigger than her people (scattered, dead, and broken, like throwing ashes to the wind, or sending a corpse to a sun) had ever thought it was, and when she finds herself sitting in bars drinking unpleasant liquor that tastes too alien and only shares the color of what she used to drink, she tries to do the things that used to make her happy (make her feel alive): drink, smoke, play cards, fuck. Sometimes she can convince her mind that there shouldn’t be bodies around her that are warm to the touch and a comforting range of colors that don’t stray anywhere into red, green, or blue.

Kara works hard to keep her xenophobia tightly locked away, because there’s only so many skills a half-broken pilot with a war notch on her belt can advertise. And in this universe, Empire-run or not, there’s still more aliens than there are humans. Even the humans are different, sporting hair and skin that look more like a fashion statement than anything else; she misses, fiercely, the simple living that running forced on them, the ponytails and monochromatic clothing and distinctly human smell that pervaded everything, on every ship, throughout the fleet. Here, she has to choke back the bile. The first time she saw a Hutt, her eyes flickered to every exit point, and it took mouth-breathing and discipline and Adama in her head saying words of officer’s conduct that got her through it.

For so long, the battle was against aliens of their own creation, and she thinks even President Roslin would have had trouble imagining the universe as such a large place, with all these strange things in it; going from enemies that weren’t human to non-humans that weren’t enemies has almost driven her to the single planet the Empire has accorded the Galactican refugees. But the stars keep her in the sky even when she misses other humans, her humans, her people so much so that she isolates herself in her bunk until she has to do her job. The stars win out, but she doesn’t know how much longer that will be true.

Now, though, she’s more or less feeling alright. She has Lee at one shoulder, whispering stupid things about her hand; and Zak, ever-present Zak who she would never, ever forget on the other, whispering dirty things in her ear.

She expected the pilot (and she knew he was a pilot, knew from his walk and his stare and his drink that he was a pilot who had seen heartbreak and action and still came back for more; saw her, sitting at the bar with a cocky grin and a frak-you smile) to buy her a drink. She didn’t expect to buy one back.

It wasn’t a hard, fast frak, because she wasn’t feeling that; and no matter what he thought was going on with her, she hadn’t let anyone give direction to her since before the Galactica met a Star Destroyer and President Roslin signed a treaty with the barest tightening of lips and a wan smile. They frakked in the ‘fresher, his alien-human smell all around her and not as bad as it normally was. Then again against the wall in her shitty little temporary room, slower and more intense, feeling rivets in her back and digging her heels into his thighs. There’s blood when her fingers come away from his skin, and she stares at it until the moment would turn strange, distracting his attention with a hard kiss and fingers teasing behind. They fuck more than she thought they would, and she doesn’t call him Slick but lets him call her Starbuck. She doesn’t use callsigns outside of flight anymore. It doesn’t do her any good to form attachments.

One name slips from her lips like motor oil from a can, and she couldn’t stop it because right at that moment she was as far away from this frakked-up universe as possible, safe and home on a ship that doesn’t exist any more.

When she makes to leave, he asks her about flying, and the answers are easy because she makes that the only thing on her mind anymore. She doesn’t like TIE’s; they don’t have the sleek skill of her old birds, the ones deemed outdated by Imperial forces and retired everywhere but their single settled world. She likes X-wings, but doesn’t like droids. She can’t abide them, flies blinder than the other pilots, but no less well. Protocol droids make her stomach roil.

Here, hyperdrive engines operate on similar principles as FTL drives, but faster and more stable and what FTL drives would have been if three million minds across hundreds of different races had come together over centuries to develop the technology. She learns new words to describe things she already new. The pilots here don’t name their ships.

Sometimes Kara thinks she isn’t adapting that well.

She has no sympathy for the war the Imperials refuse to admit they’re fighting. After being destroyed, chased, and threatened for so long, it would take far more than an attractive, loud-mouthed pilot to convince her that the oppressors were in the right. She doesn’t care if they’re actual humans, or machines that look like humans; she will never fight that battle again.

She doesn’t leave anything behind, because she has nothing left to give, and she leaves before her scent can stay on the pillow. She already gave him a name that wasn’t hers to speak, and that was too much.

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