We have struggled since the attacks, trying to rely on each other. Our strength and our only hope as a people is to remain undivided. We haven't always done all we could to ensure that.
Willow sat in a wheelchair, listening to the broadcast from the hangar bay on Talk Wireless, without actually hearing what Commander Adama had to tell to the people gathered down there, as well as those listening on throughout the fleet. Upon returning from Kobol he and Laura Roslin had overcome their differences and had brought the divided fleet back together. He had lifted martial law and reinstated the Quorum of the Twelve and the government of President Roslin and Vice-President Baltar.
As Secretary of Education Tara was down there as well. She didn't want to go initially, she wanted to stay with her. But Willow had pointed out to her girlfriend that it was her duty to be there when the democratic government of the people of the Twelve Colonies was reinstated. And so she was now among the people applauding the President.
One week had passed since Willow had been released from the infirmary and had taken up residence in Tara's quarter. It was something of a mixed blessings though. On one hand it spared Willow of having to return to her bunk at the officer's quarters and all of them meant well without a doubt but at the same time it also meant pitiful looks and words. On the other hand spending so much time with Tara right now wasn't as good as it used to be.
Not only because Willow felt so utterly useless ever since she lost her flight status for good. And there was nothing for her to fall back on to once her recovery was finished. Never again would she sit in a cockpit piloting a viper or even a raptor.
But even worse was the feeling for Willow that the trust between her and Tara was no longer absolute. That Tara was still holding back about what had happened while she had been "Missing in Action" on Kobol. Tara had told her out the other things that had happened, including her own encounter with the Cylon Centurions at the side of Dana 'Rice-Pattie' Kim. But with no word had she ever mentioned 'Rogue'. Not that she was a Cylon and certainly not that she once had been her ex-girlfriend Faith.
Willow didn't know how to feel about all this. She had served with Sharon since she had reported for duty aboard Galactica, now almost two years ago. As for 'Rogue'... with her she had flown patrol for the past two month.
Both of them had been fellow pilots, to Willow sisters in arms and now both of them turned out to be the enemy itself - Cylons. One a sleeper agent, the other apparently knowing what it was. But it was the fact that the latter one also turned out to be her girlfriend's ex-girlfriend, that had stirred some very contradicting feelings within Willow.
Why hadn't Tara told her about Faith by now? Was Tara trying to protect Willow from the truth in general or was she trying to protect herself because she wasn't sure that Willow could handle all this? Because she feared Willow might leave her because of it? Or didn't she trust Willow enough that she thought it was necessary to keep things from her girlfriend?
Her flight status; the Cylons; and doubting Tara's trust to her.. there where really quite some things going round and round in her mind. Things she certainly needed to think about. At least she had much time on her hands to do that now - think.
But she didn't. Instead she spent most of her time, when she had no appointments with either Doc Cottle or Dr. Pulaski, sitting in Tara's living room staring blankly at the wall. Giving in to self-pity and drowning in it.
By losing the ability to fly a Viper and defend the fleet, Willow had lost one major defining point in her life. In a way she had lost the reason to live on this ship. Meeting with fellow pilots didn't help much but made Willow feel even more useless. Not only because they reminded Willow what she'd lost, but also because they where always so frakking careful not to address any "sensitive" issues. It was really ridiculous! Too bad they weren't on a planet's surface. Then at least they could have talked about the weather.
Willow had dozed off and when she woke up she found Miss Kitty sitting on her lap, looking up at her with demanding eyes. As if she wanted to say: "Oh good, you're awake. Now rub my fur, will you?!" This demeanour put a rare smile on Willow's lips. Now here was someone who didn't care one bit if she was depressed or not.
Miss Kitty looked up. As usual she had sensed Tara's approach before Willow heard her working the wheel opening the bulkhead to their home.
"Oh hi," Willow said sleepily and rubbed the sleep from her eyes. The left one was still black but she could use it again. Looking at her girlfriend, Willow could see her carrying not only a stash of papers but also a pair of crutches. Seeing the astonished look in her girlfriend's eyes, Tara put the papers down on her desk and walked over to Willow.
"I walked into Doc. Cottle on my way back from a meeting with the Quorum of the Twelve," she said and kissed Willow hello. "He told me that you forgot to take your crutches with you. Now that it is the right time to start practising walking with them, you will certainly need them."
She sat down on the couch next to Willow and since the redhead made no attempt of taking the walking aids from her, she kept them in her hands sitting right in front of her.
"You see, there's no longer any reason for you to keep sitting in this chair. And once you mastered these babies you will no longer be so limited in your ways around the ship," she said cheerfully and then added. "Though Doc. Cottle said to remind you to not put any weight onto your injured leg just yet. You have to wait with that he said."
Tara held the crutches up to Willow who still didn't reach out to take them.
"So let's do it," she smiled. But Willow simply turned her head and looked into the other direction. Tara sighed silently.
"I will help you, Willow," she said. But when Willow still didn't react she said quietly: "You don't have to start today. We can start tomorrow, if you don't feel ready-"
"Tomorrow," Willow said and turned her head around to face Tara again, "we'll start tomorrow. Today I just don't feel strong enough."
Tara nodded and leaned the crutches right next to Willow between her wheelchair and the couch. Then she told Willow the latest news from around the fleet, including the confidential stuff: like Adama and Roslin bringing back another version of Cylon 'Boomer' - Sharon Valerie back from Kobol.
This where news that finally got her Willow's attention because this 'Boomer' was pregnant with the child of colonial officer Carl Agathon - 'Helo'! Sharon Valerie - the Cylon really seemed to have chosen the humans over her fellow Cylons. She even spoiled a plot by Tom Zarek's Chief of Staff Meyer to kill both father and son Adama. Whether or not Zarek had anything to do with it, nobody knew.
"I'm Sharon but I'm not the same Sharon," this Cylon was said to have uttered. "I know who I am, I make my own decisions." It looked like this version of Sharon was really in love with her human co pilot.
"And where is she now?" Willow wanted to know.
"The brig," Tara said, "but this is confidential, remember?" Willow nodded in understanding. A Cylon that had fallen in love with a human was carrying his child and had clearly taken sides with the humans. 'Maybe,' she thought, 'the Cylons had copied their masters too well when they had taken on human form.'
The rest of the evening went well. Tara told Willow of many things, except Faith. But Willow didn't ask her about her Cylon ex either.
Another week came and went and throughout it Willow didn't even try to start walking with the crutches. She gave one sorry excuse after the other and pretended to not see the hurt on Tara's face when she did so.
It was midday, thirteen hundred hours ships time, and Willow was bored and browsing through the pages of a novel Tara had gotten her. It was a wonderful romantic coming out story about two teenage girls Franzi and Alex. But with herself still drowning in self-pity, Willow couldn't find the necessary interest in one of Tara's favourite novels. Again Willow was staring blandly at the wall, when the bulkhead flung open and Tara entered their quarter. She had her suitcase in one hand and a very determined look on her face.
"Honey, I'm home," she beamed, slammed the bulkhead shut and after tossing her suitcase into the next corner, crossed over to her waiting girlfriend.
Only shortly she bent down to Willow to kiss her hello, then she reached for the crutches that were still lying between couch and wheelchair.
"I've made a decision," she declared, "and for that I have taken the rest of the day off. You know what we'll doing with that extra time?"
"Snuggle and kissing?"
"No, even though I like the idea," Tara answered and held out the crutches in front of her. "We're going to get you up to your feet and take the first steps on your own again!" She held the crutches up to Willow who only had to reach out in order to get them
"I don't know," Willow said weakly, ignoring the offered walking aids. "I think it's still too early... tomorrow... Yes, tomorrow will be a better day."
In that exact moment, Tara lost control. It was the most impressive sight to see - a lot like an explosion. A really big explosion! With fire burning in her eyes, she threw the crutches right in front of Willow onto the floor, sending a hissing and snarling Miss Kitty who had been sleeping right beneath the wheelchair to her feet and protesting loudly running into the bedroom. For the rest of the day the tiny feline was not to be seen again.
For a long moment Willow simply stared stupidly at her infuriated girlfriend. Standing there in front of her in all her furious glory.
"What's that all about?" she asked, trying a witty tone of voice.
Tara however was not in the mood for joking she soon realised.
"What's this all about!" Tara yelled, her face now all red. "For two weeks now, you've been sitting in this wheelchair, drowning in self-pity instead of getting you sorry frakking ass up and get moving!!"
Willow found herself quite surprised by Tara's uncommon use of such colourful language.
"In case you've forgotten, I had a slight accident," she countered, pointing at her heavily bandaged knee.
"Oh, believe me I haven't forgotten," Tara said sarcastically. "But it seems to me that you're missing a vital point here!"
"And that is?!"
"You're not dead!" Tara yelled, folding her arms in front of her torso.
"Now what's that supposed to mean?" Willow replied, getting angry herself now.
"It means that you're sitting here like you've given up," Tara said, her voice still at the edge of screaming. "I mean look at you. It's been days since you last washed your hair - it's all filthy."
"Now what's my hair's got to do with this?"
"Everything and nothing," Tara admitted.
"Oh yet another cryptic message from our Secretary of Education," Willow spotted sarcastically. "Well, sorry I neglected washing my hair. But I lost the one thing I had going for me, defining my place aboard this Battlestar."
"Willow, just because you can't fly a Viper anymore doesn't mean your life is over," Tara said and quietly added: "It might very well be over, if you're keep sitting here, staring in the void of your loss." Tara took a step towards Willow and sat down in front of her on the floor. "Brooding over what you've lost, won't do you any good. As bad as it certainly is, you have to say goodbye to your Viper and move on. You have to start looking for something else to do aboard Galactica."
"But of what use is a crippled Viper pilot for Galactica, for the fleet?" Willow asked, sounding blue.
Tara let out an annoyed puff that send her fringe flying up and back into her face. Brushing the hair from her eyes again she slowly said: "You're not crippled, Willow. Both doctor Cottle and Pulaski have said that you will be able to walk again - with the help of a cane, someday maybe even without."
"But I will limp," Willow said with a pout.
"Yes, you will limp, cane or no cane - but you will be able to walk." She took Willow's hand into her own and smiled. "Now, I know I don't know much about military protocol and who is doing what job aboard a Battlestar - though calling it a job is probably wrong. But I'm sure there must be something to do for a qualified officer like yourself."
She stood up again and stood defiantly in front of Willow, still holding her girlfriends hands. "But only if you get your bony little ass out of this wheelchair!"
"I have no bony ass!" Willow protested and fell silent, lost in her thoughts again. 'What the... ' Willow thought, as she found herself pushed forward toward the bulkhead by Tara. "Where're we going?" she asked puzzled.
"Can't tell," came the answer from behind her. "I just thought of something to lift your spirits."
It didn't take Willow long to realise that Tara was pushing her towards the port hangar bay, though what for she couldn't tell.
"What you're bringing me down for?" She asked accusingly. "To show me what I've lost?"
They just left the lift, entering the hangar bay floor.
"There's something I wanted to show you," Tara said gently.
The first thing that Willow saw, was her own Viper 1701 - Mark VII-X, X for Xander or X-men as he'd been called by his fellow knuckle draggers.
But then something else caught her attention. In the far corner of the hangar bay, she saw specialist, pilots, even Dualla from the CIC were working on something that vaguely looked like the skeleton of a Viper.
"What are they doing?" Willow sceptically, looking at the hustle going on in front of her.
"From what Alyson Benson told me," Tara explained and stepped up to stand next to Willow. "The chief started to build a brand new Viper from scratch."
"That's madness," Willow commented.
"Is it?" Tara asked back. "The way I see it, it might have started as a hopeless attempt of a men who learned that the woman he loved was a Cylon sleeper agent, to keep from going crazy; but not anymore. Look at them Willow. Despite all the despair and hopelessness around us, these people have begun to build something new. This thing might not even get off the ground but as long as they are working at it, they have still hope."
Tara fell silence and Willow watched fascinated all the people, from all the different departments of the ship, working on something to keep them from going insane. No, building a dream. And as long as you could still dream, you weren't beyond hope. So why should she be?
While Tara was still mesmerised by the scene Willow slowly started to roll her wheelchair towards her comrades. From the corner of her eye, she could see Commander Adama and Col. Thigh overseeing the entire scene from the gallery. Closing in on the "construction site", Willow felt her lover's look resting on her. Turning back, she could see Tara still standing where she had left her, smiling thoughtfully.
The first person to see her approach was her best friend Buffy, who was just rolling out from under the birds skeleton nose, a unidentifiable knot of cables in her hands. Upon spotting her former wingman 'Slayers' oil smeared face turned into a huge smile.
"Hey!" she cried out. "Good to see that you've come out of your self imposed isolation."
"Yeah," 'Red-Dyke' said, smiling wryly. "Tara just gave me a good verbal kick in the bud."
"And about time," Buffy said standing up. "Or otherwise I would've come up and carried you down here myself!"
"You would have?"
"So would you have anything to do for a former Viper pilot on wheels?" Willow asked.
"Let's ask the Chief," Buffy said and called out to Chief Tyrol who just came around from behind the back of the unfinished bird.
"Good to see you again, Lieutenant," he said and after Willow had announced her willingness to help, he wheeled her to the Viper's back and the two lower port manoeuvre thrusters, that still had to be connected to the ship's propulsion system.
"So, here you have the schematics," he said and handed Willow some hand drawn plan. "All the cables, tools and stuff you'll find here." He adjusted the height of the small workstation and rolled it next to Willow.
"Here're you thrusters Lieutenant... good luck," he said and left a bewildered looking Willow, to make sense out of his hand drawn schematics.
Turning the peace of paper around and around again, Willow tried to figure out how to hold it correctly in order to make sense of it. Looking up, Willow noticed that Tara had come to stand at her side; she also noticed that Tara had changed into one of the orange red jumpsuits common among Galactica's deck gang.
"You look good in orange Tara, you know that?" she asked.
"Think so?" Tara said and looked a little doubtfully down herself. "I thought I could lend you a hand."
"Well, in that case you're certainly clothed for the occasion," Willow observed with a huge grin on her face. Glancing over the schematics and one of the thrusters in her hand for another fifteen minutes, Willow then had Tara put the thrusters where they were supposed to be and started fastening it to the Viper's frame. Once that was done she began connecting the cables and tubes as well as cursing quite colourfully about the Chief unclear specifications.
Willow was so involved in her work that she didn't notice the hours flying by or any of her comrades leaving to report to duty and being replaced by those who got off duty. And the later it got, the more people left to call it a night. There was another thing she didn't notice and that was the hopeful smile on her girlfriends rather dirty face. Willow too looked somewhat like she'd mistaken oil for shampoo lately.
"Done! " Willow cried and made a little sitting victory dance. "I knew I could beat this little piece of frak!" she declared and pointed at the second of the two thrusters that had managed to resist Willow's attempt to connect it for the past hours.
She looked up and frowned before she asked Tara: "Where is everybody?"
"They called it a night," Tara answered, trying hard not to giggle, "except of course, those who're on the night shift."
"What's the time?"
"Twenty two hundred hours sharp."
"What!?" Willow cried out. "But that means I've been down here for... for... for..." She took her fingers to help as she counted the hours since she'd been brought to the hangar bay by Tara.
"... almost eight hours!"
"That's right," Tara said with a laugh.
"Then why didn't you say something?"
"Actually I've tried," Tara said with a frown, "but without much success, I'm afraid."
"What you mean 'without much success'?" Willow wondered, while packing the tools that still lie in her lap away.
"You ignored me and continued working ," Tara said and gave a pout.
"Eight hours," Willow repeated to herself. "Certainly explains why I'm so hungry. Tell you what!" she said and wheeled around, "Why not grab something to eat on our way home?" Tara nodded in agreement and Willow went on. "And after that, I think I need a shower," and looking Tara up and down, she added: "Seems to me you could use one too."
"Oh really?" Tara said and started to wheel Willow towards the elevator. "And how exactly do you think you will take the shower?"
"Well, we can 'borrow' that stainless steel chair over there and then place it in the shower stall. I sit on it, keeping the bandaged leg outside of it."
She looked up to Tara. "You could join me if you like. Around this hour of the day, showers are usually empty. All we have to do is block the hatch..."
They did exactly as Willow had suggested and returned to their quarter with a couple of sandwiches and the 'borrowed' chair. Following a quick dinner they spent some quality time showering together.
This very exciting day later ended with some - as Willow called it - heavy snuggling, kisses and sweet dreams.
There was however this little voice in Willow's mind that kept reminding, her that even though she'd finally come out of her self-pity, there still where some important issues that needed to be addressed. As well as some equally important part in their relationship that had been missing since Willow and Tara had last spent the night together before Willow left for Kobol.