Warnings: Oblique references to character suicide.
Fandom: Battlestar Galactica (RDM)
Characters: Number Three, Laura Roslin
Prompt: "When you come to the end of all the light you know and are about to step into the darkness of the unknown, one of two things will happen. You will step on solid ground or be taught how to fly." -- Barbara Winters
Spoilers: Through The Eye of Jupiter, Season 3.
Summary: Three and Roslin meet at the most unlikely of places. Both are searching for something, but can they both face the answers they might find?
Author's Notes: So much credit and thanks to shadowriter for not only the beta, but for talking me through this and putting up with all my ramblings in the process of getting this together.
It's curious how in the quest for answers on how to move forward one often finds oneself looking back.
Sometimes it comes from an all-consuming hunger for forbidden knowledge – tantalizing enough to throw all caution to the wind in the headlong rush toward the truth. Sometimes it's born of a desire for self-preservation -- which one could argue is an obsession all its own. No matter the cause, the search itself is very much a leap of faith; the decision to take that step is no less than an act of courage.
Or, one might argue, a measure of desperation when you have nothing left to lose.
Neither one of them should by any rights, by any logic, be able to recognize the Opera House as it appeared at the height of its glory. Neither one of them had been alive when the Opera House looked like this; it was in ruins long before they would exist, two millennia since the Tribes and their gods abandoned the planet, and much longer since civilization on Kobol was at its zenith.
It seems strange, she thinks as she locks gazes with the woman approaching her, that they should find common ground like this. Strange that it should be here.
An eyebrow arches behind the eyeglass frames, the gesture cool and calculated. "Strange?" The tone in which the question is asked is modulated with exacting precision.
That one word seems to encompass many things about this moment, not the least of which is the realization that the voice of her mortal enemy (many of the humans fall under this category but this one more so than most) is so disconcertingly soothing – that it puts her at ease somehow. Never mind that this woman, the president of the human Colonists, seems to know what she's thinking. She's come to accept the surreal as reality in these states, come to embrace it willingly with the knowledge that what she seeks is worth any sacrifice to attain.
"Strange," she repeats coolly, unwilling to give too much of herself away. They stand there for a moment on the lushly-carpeted aisle, the silence of the Opera House almost deafening around them.
"But familiar," counters her unexpected companion; she is forced, however silently and reluctantly, to concede the point – and not simply the surface meaning. Her copies have observed Laura Roslin too keenly in her time with the Fleet to assume only a single layer to the words. Perhaps this common ground isn't so surprising; they are, after all, much alike, though she doubts Roslin would admit that any more readily than she would.
Dimly at first, but with a growing intensity, she becomes aware of the crowd around them; it's a faceless, silent mass but for all that their presence is palpable.
And yet, neither of them makes a move for the next few moments until Roslin gestures gracefully to the row of chairs just beside them. "Have a seat, won't you?" It's as much challenge as invitation, and she would expect no less. And the Cylon designated Number Three isn't one to shy from a challenge.
She settles into the comfort of her seat on the aisle, warily, of course; she knows how disarming decadence can be, and she's certainly never hesitated to use that knowledge to press her own advantage before. Her eyes, like Roslin's, are drawn to the stage. The five members of the robed chorus have stepped into the glare of the footlights and the play, it seems, is about to begin.
She strains her eyes to make out their faces as she's done in the fleeting moments between downloads before, but despite what feels like a luxury of time she still can't make out any distinguishing features beneath those hoods.
The chorus begins to speak, and though the words are nothing more than an indistinct yet mellifluous flow of syllables that make little more sense to her than the random utterance's of a Basestar's Hybrid she knows instinctively that this is a play in the ancient style, a performance meant to please the gods. Her lip curls slightly in disdain at the thought of the falsehood inherent in the concept – the fallacy of the humans' religion – and yet she can't help but be caught up in the drama itself, her expression as rapt as that of the woman beside her.
She chooses to ignore that similarity.
It could be any one of a score of plays from the ancient times; it doesn't matter which. The names and specifics mean nothing to her; the actors in their featureless masks are simply playing out one more variation on the timeless themes of sacrifice, reverence, and devotion. All of this has happened before, and all of it will happen again. The mortal powers that be, giving up all they hold most dear in the hopes of receiving divine favor; the lengths to which people will go when spurred on by extreme emotion.
And no matter the misguided faith behind the play's creation, she has to acknowledge that there is truth there. No matter how she scorns the beliefs that her companion seems to revere, she has to admit that she can see some of herself in what's being acted out on the stage.
She's not sure she likes making that admission. Some things are more comfortable when left unarticulated. To even tacitly acknowledge as much is, as far as she's concerned, to admit validation of the humans' unenlightened beliefs, and that isn't something she's prepared to do.
This unexpected paralysis of doubt has her so firmly in its grip that she scarcely realizes when the play comes to an end and the actors retire to the wings. It barely registers in her mind that the audience around them has faded away. Neither of those facts, though, resonates the way what she sees does, when she turns her head and finds herself reflected in Laura Roslin's eyes.
"That was an enlightening performance, wouldn't you say?" Even that simple comment is dangerously faceted, an attempt to call her bluff; any answer she can give would be playing off a three-up hand as if she holds full colors, and Number Three never had much patience for Triad.
She hears her own voice in the silence of the empty Opera House, as cool and canny as Roslin's own. "I'd be interested in hearing your interpretation first."
"Maybe it's not so strange that we should run into each other here after all." The smile on Laura Roslin's face is enigmatic, but her tone is knowing.
"And what exactly do you mean by that?"
Roslin's response is simply a coy smile that makes her breath catch.
She doesn't remember any more how often she's come so close to an answer and then simply run out of time, and every attempt only drove her to try again; this is the only time she has ever hesitated. She begins to stand, to walk away from that scrutinizing gaze –
The Opera House begins to fade away around her as the download completes, and for the first time she feels a sense of relief that it has. But the thought that lingers with her as she wakes, gasping, in the resurrection tank is that there will be another attempt.