mr_gaeta: (officer of the fleet)
Felix Gaeta ([personal profile] mr_gaeta) wrote2013-03-19 09:42 pm

Blood on the Scales

After the Marines escort Louis away, it takes another twenty minutes for them to return. Gaeta spends the time straightening up the table. The notebook goes to one corner, the pencil set parallel beneath it; the mugs are neatly stacked and placed alongside the carafe. Some lucky frakker can get the last two cigarettes and the remaining inch of cold coffee, he supposes.

"Mr. Gaeta," says the Marine who leans in. Gaeta lifts his head.

She's holding his crutches in one hand. A second Marine stands close by, both hands on his weapon in precaution and warning both; Gaeta's attention barely skates across him before it settles on her. She doesn't say, It's time, and he doesn't answer, I know.

All he says -- like he's acknowledging an unspoken question, or agreeing with a prevailing truth -- is, "Yes, sir."

With a curt nod, she steps close enough to hold out his crutches. Gaeta accepts them without another word. They don't offer assistance as he stands; in a way, he's grateful for that.

Another knot of Marines has formed around the edges of the door. (Gods, there are so many of them for one crippled lieutenant.) Weapons drawn, they stretch out like a bubble to fold around him as he exits the room. He looks to each one before he swings his crutches forward, encouraging the procession on.

The door clangs shut behind them at 0600 precisely. Outside, Gaeta walks down Galactica's halls for the last time.

To someone who hadn't lived here for seven years, every corridor they tread would look identical. Gaeta knows them well enough to recognize the fingerprints of each scratch and rust stain on the deckplates. (There are a few new marks he tries to ignore -- dark blots, yet to be cleaned, that he knows aren't rust.) They only go through a fraction of the battlestar en route to the execution site, and a piece of him tries to reach further, calling up the parts he won't have a chance to see again: the CIC door, the inside of his locker, the glittering vastness of the observation deck. There's still so much of her left. He doesn't want to leave without a goodbye.

They don't cut through the memorial hall, but their route takes them just past it. Gaeta glimpses it from the corner of his eye; briefly, he turns to see the endless line of photos overlapping the ship's walls. Candles flicker, wax puddling around their bases. Somebody's kneeling at the end of the hall with her hands clasped in prayer. At the sound of the group's footsteps, she lifts her head, but Gaeta's too far away to make out her face.

He wonders if she can tell who he is. Whether, after this is done, somebody will tuck his picture into place on the wall.

Will it stay up? Will anyone allow a mutineer to share space with the thousands who died fighting?

Will he really be remembered after they jettison his body into space?

He closes his eyes, turning away to focus on his balance as they round the corner. The memorial hall recedes into memory.

Zarek's already there by the time they reach the hangar deck. He catches Gaeta's eye, but doesn't say anything. Two ordinary metal chairs have been set about ten yards down the launch tube. Another Marine stands ready with a coil of rope.

When his escort nudges him forward, Gaeta suddenly balks, unable to get his arms and legs to work. His chest constricts with a flare of panic that goes off like a firework and fades just as quickly. Please, he thinks, and can't even understand why he's begging. Please.

But it's only a launch tube, and it will only take a few steps to reach its endpoint. Slowly, in tandem, he and Zarek walk to the chairs. Side by side, they take a seat.

"Mr. Gaeta," says a gruff voice, and for the first time, he notices the other parties in attendance. Adama stands just behind the assembled execution detail; so, to Gaeta's surprise, does Gaius Baltar, arms folded tight as he watches the proceedings in silence. The Admiral's attention shifts to Tom. "Mr. Zarek. Do either of you have any final words?"

Zarek lifts his chin. As the Marine tightens the ropes binding his arms and legs to the chair: "I believe my actions speak for themselves."

The Marine attending to Gaeta takes his crutches away and starts to work on his own restraints. Gaeta swallows, meeting Adama's eyes. He can't make his mouth work for a second. "No, sir," he says at last.

Adama examines him a moment longer, as if waiting for something more. Gaeta's the first to look away: he glances sidelong to Zarek, who's watching him with a similar expectancy. A rueful smile twitches Gaeta's lips. Despite everything, maybe Zarek will be glad Gaeta's not using his last few minutes to grovel and scrape at the Admiral's feet.

If Tom's answering smile -- as rueful as Gaeta's -- and the nod are any indication, he just might be. They frakked up; they failed each other; neither one of them would probably pick the other as the man they'd like to die alongside. But they don't have a choice in the matter. They'll be united by the time and manner of their death, and that kind of solidarity lends itself well to forgiveness.

"Detail ready," says Adama. Gaeta turns back to face him, his heart abruptly knocking against his ribs as it tries to work as hard as it can in his last few seconds. It's all he can feel.


...It's all he can feel.

Gaeta's brow knits as he looks down at his leg. The stump's as raw as ever, prickled with scabs and scars,'s like there's nothing there. The whole area feels numb.

No, he realizes. That's not right.

He's just become so used to pain that he's confusing a lack of hurt with a lack of everything.

"It stopped," he whispers in awe, raising his eyes back to the gun barrels.

"Fire," says the Admiral, and something hot punches his chest, and --