mr_gaeta: (officer of the fleet)
Felix Gaeta ([personal profile] mr_gaeta) wrote2013-03-18 09:47 pm

Blood on the Scales

Adama doesn't bother with a trial. With guilt clearly evident, all that's required is a brief meeting -- Gaeta flanked by armed guards on all sides -- for the Admiral to hand down Gaeta's sentence. The violation: mutiny and treason. The outcome: death by firing squad.

It's such a simple, comforting line of cause and effect. So little has made sense lately, and so little justice has been served. Here, though...at least in this, he can know something's finally right.

For his last night, he's gifted with one of the nicer private rooms on Galactica, though the Marines confiscate his crutches and prosthesis in exchange. Gaeta keeps his list of final requests small: good coffee -- real coffee ("I know Skulls is still hoarding a bag," he says) -- a notebook and pen, some envelopes, and one last morpha shot to ease him through until 0600. They don't have any qualms about confiscating a fellow mutineer's coffee stash, and no one is so cruel as to make him spend his last hours in pain.

Instead of a pen, though, he gets a dull pencil. Apparently, they're not taking any chances.

Sometime around 2030 hrs, he also gets a visitor: Baltar, his face drawn, his smile aching and uncertain as the Marines close the hatch behind him. Without quite realizing it, Gaeta smiles back. Gods, he thinks, the last time he could look at him and smile must have been at least eighteen months ago.

"I brought you something," says Gaius, untucking a small box from under one arm. He holds it out. "They're quite good. I've been, ah, rationing them, somewhat."

Gaeta accepts the box and opens it to find a neat row of top-quality Caprican cigarettes. It's the same tobacco he could always smell on Gaius, conjuring up memories that constantly vacillated between fondness and deep anger. Now, though, all the anger's spent in full. There's no point in trying to build up a new supply.

"Thank you," he murmurs. Picking up one of the cigarettes, he offers it to Gaius before selecting another for himself. Gaius lights them both. As they settle back into their respective chairs, the smoke drifts up to hang above their heads like gauze.

Eventually, Gaeta starts to talk. He doesn't know what he's going to say at first; what seems most important is just the action of speech, which has become as precious a gift as the cigarettes. He starts with quiet reminiscences of his first months in the service. Soon, he's taking it back farther, to all his childhood loves and ambitions.

Neither of them bring up the immediate future or the immediate past.

"I suppose a long time ago, it was architecture," he says, studying the ribbon of smoke trailing up from his cigarette. "There was a year there where I scribbled floor plans on everything. Dining room table, patio tiles, rare books -- " Gaeta cracks another smile. "Drove my parents crazy."

"How old were you?" asks Baltar.

He shrugs. "I don't know, uh. Eight, maybe? Nine?" A small chuckle, gently self-deprecating. "I'll tell you one thing, though, I had some pretty frakking amazing ideas: restaurants shaped like food." He taps his temple, inviting Gaius to share in the ridiculousness. "Top-heavy buildings, and stairways, every -- everything had to have a stairway."

He curves a loose hand in front of his mouth, gaze drifting off into the distance as he loses himself in thought and memory. After a moment, he returns to the present; picking up the carafe, he pours a mug for Gaius and slides it his way.

"Spoils of war," he quips. Then, letting out a long sigh, "When I was older, uh, then it became...medicine. Engineering. Photography. I think I would've made a better architect than any of those, though. Ow -- " With a tiny grimace, he shifts in his chair. "And then, I discovered science. And I...I thought I was really, really good at it." Gaeta tips a hand toward Gaius. "Until I met you."

He drags the carafe back over to himself to top off his mug. Across the table, Baltar closes his eyes, pinching the bridge of his nose. He always did that on New Caprica when he was struggling not to cry.

"Felix -- " he begins.

"Don't." Soft, and matter-of-fact. Gaeta watches him over the rim of his mug. "And please no religion," he adds; a tiny, gentle smile quirks his mouth. "I'm fine with how things worked out. Really, Gaius, I am. I..."

The smile fades, moves to a frown, then a wince as Gaeta sets down the mug to rub at his stump. It takes a few seconds before he can go on.

"I just hope...I hope that..." He struggles to find the words, feeling his way along a path toward some nebulous concept just out of reach. "People realize, eventually...."

Oh.

"Who I am," he finishes in a whisper, looking up at Gaius.

Right then, he thinks he can almost understand why so many people flocked to Baltar. There's a sorrow in his eyes, and a profound empathy, that seems to echo his constant preachings about the all-knowing, singular god who sees every fault, but forgives and loves all the same. This isn't him acting on behalf of his cult's higher power, though. It's simply Gaius, seeing Gaeta's mistakes, his joys, his life -- and offering a better benediction than any prayer could deliver.

"I know who you are, Felix," he says. "I know who you are."



It's almost 2200 by the time Gaius departs. He plucks two more cigarettes from the case to leave behind; they rest, untouched for now, in the ashtray next to the carafe of coffee. These are the last artifacts of Gaeta's life: fresh coffee, four cigarettes (two smoked and two not), the glimmer of that one final morpha shot.

For a while, Gaeta busies himself with the notepad and pencil. Next to his elbow, a small stack of folded letters grows.

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