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Title: To Compose a Vector: A Duet in Three Parts
Fandom: Battlestar Galactica
Genre: Romance (I hope) with a small-dose of Angst
Rating: T
Word Count: ~8100 (more or less a hundred or so)
Spoilers: Everything.
Characters/Pairings: Felix Gaeta/Louis Hoshi; ensemble
A/N: This is for the ship-swap over at [livejournal.com profile] bsg_epics for [livejournal.com profile] lls_mutant, who so kindly provided me this opportunity to write, apparently, the longest thing I've written in this fandom thus far, quite surprisingly. Also, many thanks to my kind beta [livejournal.com profile] lorrainemarker who patiently treaded through my parentheses-filled waters. However, any and all mistakes remaining are mine, and I make my apologies for them.
Disclaimer: I do not own anything.
Summary: If we add up all the little distances we travel in life, we are bound to find the resultant vector.


To Compose a Vector: A Duet in Three Parts

I. a point of origin

It had always been just a voice. Tinny and full-of-static or, other times, a clear, smooth timbre that trembled just a bit when the person on the other end was anxious or nervous. Felix Gaeta knew Louis Hoshi long before they actually had a chance to meet, before he ever saw a face or felt his breath. His doppelganger on the Pegasus and the cadence of the voice was a mysterious, featureless safety-line stretching across the dark emptiness of space, and in all likelihood, duty and business would have remained their main reasons for communication - if not for New Caprica.

New Caprica changed many things, and this was one of the few Felix did not regret.

---

It is exasperating the things that man put him through. Gaeta has never once doubted the fact that Gaius Baltar was –is- a brilliant man, but he would now never question the fact that he is also crazy. And selfish. And vain. And utterly incompetent at even the most basic administrative tasks, but no, he is still so very brilliant. These are harsh realizations - as shattering as the fall of his grandmother’s favorite mug off the top cupboard shelf.

Sadly, the man’s ego just shined even more brightly, eclipsing the intellect. He is so beautiful - he blinds even himself. Assistant to the President of the Colonies is an exhausting, underappreciated job.

He remembers the young, innocent face of Billy Keikeya, and can’t help wondering, ‘How did he do it?’. Then again, Gaeta is reasonably certain that he never had to hire discreet cleaners to clean the good president’s residence every weekend to ensure the habitability of the living space or remain constantly on the lookout for any remaining supplies of the fleet’s contraceptives, all rumors about the former madame president aside. Also, he at least had some free time from what Gaeta had seen of him and Dee when they were together.

As much fondness as one can have for optimism, a new world, and dreams, life has always been another matter completely, so Gaeta takes in hand the responsibilities and drudge work and ‘presidential’ duties as best he could (as the vice president watches over ‘operations’). When the women come by, he offers excuses for the President to the girls who look too young. He stuffs paperwork from frantic settlers into bulging files, accepts grudgingly wry smiles and knowing looks from a new (former) school teacher (he likes to think them wishes of good luck though it may just be that she’s laughing at him), and sends messages and communiqués back-and-forth from the ground and office of the president to the battlestars still watching above.

He collapses into his cot each night and goes to sleep almost immediately with more and more plans settled around him.

He believes in this dream, this dream of a future on this planet – because he has to.

Reach for the stars they say. Funny how that doesn’t really work when they had just left them for solid earth.

In the end, he takes the simple pleasures as they come - the small children that could once again play and learn and live relatively normal lives, the civilians who gossip in the market with words falling in and out on each breath of fresh air, and the rare moments of sudden laughter that rise from the ragtag formation of sudden families. Of course, there are also the daily calls to the Galactica and Pegasus for status reports. The familiar voices that would fly over the radio waves are a pleasant comfort in his uncomfortable and unfamiliar world. Dee’s soft tones remind him especially of home, and when he can no longer take the president’s whims and complaints silently, he finds a refuge in their quiet jokes and the exchange of gossip.

When Dee becomes more and more busy with her duties in maintaining and organizing the skeleton crew for the Mercury class battlestar, her soft voice is replaced by Louis’s. Felix decides immediately after their first inter atmospheric conversation not to tell him that he sounds exactly like Dee over the long wave radio. Exactly. It is with only a few hesitations before communication eases its way back into bantering and jokes. It would be a time before he admits that they are, in fact, a comfort.

---

The first time Louis hears Dee’s laughter (quiet, soft, and piercing in its lightness), she is laughing at him, having overheard him humming in the showers. He wants to melt with the water down the drain. His mother had always told him that he should never sing in front of any boy he likes. His voice worked. It functioned. He could speak with it, and sometimes, barely that. But that was it.

“Don’t stop.” Dee’s smile isn’t mean, just amused, and a part of him feels all the more mortified because he can’t defend himself against that, and this looseness among the crew, this crew, is still new and unfamiliar to him. (He can’t help his slight wariness, the sense of caution that he has developed since the Pegasus first made its blind jump. It carries with it the tinge of shame that he cannot avoid.) “It wasn’t that bad.”

She has finished her shower now and her towel is wrapped around her, which is the only reason why Louis is fighting his blush as hard as he can. He has lost his only other excuse for blushing.

“Did you like to sing?”

“No, not really. I was always told that I’m not much of a singer.”

“Hmm. Well, I don’t think they were wrong about that, but maybe it’ll change when you meet the right person.”

Louis laughs, and it’s a new sort of sound – like meeting an old friend years down the road and he’s a completely different person but still your friend. Something loosens inside. Some of the wariness falls away. “I don’t think it works that way.” Done with his shower, he quickly wraps himself in a towel.

“The old midwife in our town used to tell us the old tales of Platos before the festivals. If we found our other half on the night of the festival of Eros, we would know because we would hear the old gods of the mountains sing behind us. In turn, during the festival dances, we were supposed to choose our partners blindfolded, and when a person happened to find their other half, they would be able to sing the song of the god of mountains that night. Then again, more often than not, the girls or boys would be able to choose their sweethearts by the sound of their voice. In the old days, that was how some couples managed to choose their marriages.” Dee’s smile had drifted into slyness.

Louis just laughs. “I don’t think even a god’s magic would allow me to sing a song in tune.”

“Oh well. Maybe you’ll just have to hear a good song. I hear that there will be music and alcohol and lots of dancing down at the groundbreaking.”

Of course, he won’t leave until after the celebrations have ended.

---

The exchange of officers from the battlestars to ground took place after the groundbreaking. Those who had been manning the watch from above during the ceremonies and celebration were finally allowed to stretch their legs on sunny ground while it lasted. They would have to return to the splotchy darkness of space before the cloud cover and wintry weather systems closed in, literally freezing the settlers in and the non-settlers out. Mother nature at its most discerning.

Nothing drew a line between insiders and outsiders as well as nature You’re a boy! Go stay on your side!... Hey shortie, what are you doing in this place? You don’t belong here. Jump across! Jump across the river before the dam breaks! Did you see that eruption on the news last night? I don’t think anyone will be able to live there for a long while.. So it was with intent that most of the beached military personnel ended up within the crowded tent that served as New Caprica’s finest bar, guided by the approaching chill of the night wind.

It was across the distance of the bar that Felix caught the voice again despite the liveliness of most of the other patrons. Its cadence smooth and familiar, what should have dissipated in the noise instead stood out to him all the more in the enclosure, dozens of clicks of space compressed into the length of a tent.

It would be with cautious smiles and easy recognition that the voices met and meshed that night.

Hey, want another drink?

It’s good to see you.

---

II. a direction

“So this is the infamous ‘new’ moonshine that everyone has been talking about?”

“Yes, the first and, almost only, native New Caprican brew around.”

“It’s still a sight better than the clear carbon fuel-extract stuff that was going around the deck crew for a while.”

“You actually tried it?”

“And you didn’t?”

The only time they would ever talk of their lives prior to the Cylon-wrought apocalypse was before they ever really knew each other at all. Late into that first night in a smoke infused tent and drinks in their hands, the stories of past lives unraveled just a bit, brought out for show-and-tell after a long stay in the recesses of the mind.

They were both clear-eyed and still mostly sober.

“I knew, for the most part, how they were making it.”

“Ah.”

These stories weren’t the lighter fare told in bunk beds and cramped quarters, shared with the handsome guy they met on the first day of service, or to brooding companions while on the run for their lives. These were the honest-to-life stories, little peeks at the truth behind the person behind the mask, behind the lingering images and daily routines built following the flash of burnt silhouettes as the first nukes landed on billions of homes and little lives.

With few remaining people to tell and death lurking in every shadow, one would think the urgency to share the stories of their lives would be greater than ever, but instead, it was a precious commodity. Truth-telling. Raising the person they were back from the dead as the person they are. Necromancing was a horrifyingly painful art. (Felix remembers needing the cigarettes and drink – habits he may or may not have kicked when still in university - badly when the reporter came around.)

“What did you do before this?”

“Not much. I was hoping to earn enough in the military to pay for more advance training and lab education – to go into research.”

The stare Louis gives him is less demanding than it is curious, and so it starts. He shares his old aspirations to do advance studies in the rising genetic engineering projects at the new scientific university on Caprica, generously funded by the Greystone Foundation as well as the current president’s tributes and bolstering reputation, the dreams he had of successfully developing fully adaptable tissues and organs without the markers that the human immune systems would attack.

It would have saved so many lives, gotten rid of so much pain. (He doesn’t, however, talk about his Aunt Pamela who had lost an arm in a vehicle accident and was never the same again. He cannot release the words needed to describe the look on her face whenever she forgot and reached with her prosthetic to flatten his hair.)

He tells Louis of all the risks he had studied in his biomedical engineering classes regarding organ transplant. Such critical procedures in many different circumstances but still, so many were lost when the patient’s body ultimately killed the life-saving donation when they were lucky enough to receive one, or were forced to live the rest of their lives with immuno-compromised body systems.

Louis just stares, entranced by the shine in Felix’s eyes when he discusses the intricacies in the smallest of details - in encouraging the growth of nerve cells in specific directions through the use of chemical compounds only discovered in the last decade, of keeping amputated tissue alive long enough to encourage regeneration.

And they had lost so much in the resulting apocalypse. So many possibilities – just gone.

“The discoveries could have made a real difference – from both children suffering from congenital disorders to war veterans.”

“I’m sure, but we can always look again can’t we?”

Felix has no response to his question, looking instead into his glass, pondering if that question has any answers. “It will probably take decades – centuries, if not millennia before we can re-develop the level of technology needed, and that is if we manage to find the resources to do so. Certainly not here… not now.”

And right there laid an analogous representation of the disappointment that was New Caprica. The original systems that the twelve colonies resided in had opportunities even if they only started on the rough terrain on Gemenon. However, New Caprica was isolated with its single, cold star, and only a small percentage of it was habitable, and if there were systems close by, there was little chance that any of them would be protected by the cover afforded by the same interstellar conditions.

“Then we adapt. We don’t need to have twelve worlds. Just enough for us to survive.” Felix’s gaze is jolted back up by the sudden strike of the voice. “My father, and his father before him, all worked the old tramways for generations, long before air transport and the speed rails came. I still remember running up and down the railways when I was very young, and my father - he would show me the controls that helped take freight inland on the continents. We traveled a lot back then. Saw all the different worlds, and sometimes, how essential the cargo was to those most isolated. Not all of the governments could afford the newer systems or the speedier transports.”

(He mentions nothing of how this knowledge and background made him the admiral’s main go-to person in determining freight capacity and necessity rankings to supplies when she went to strip the civilian ships. The confessions come later, much later – when there is more alcohol, more trust, and a hell lot of codependence to bolster them.)

His words slide easily into the mainstream chatter, and Felix listens with rapt attention at the rare ease Louis takes to this subject matter. Of the comfortable familiarity with which he explains the different routings in the system, the ways the different engines and different cars looked and functioned, and how it all mattered even when the old forms and functions became outdated.

“Some of the old cars were actually beautiful, and best in terms of strength and sturdiness. The metals they were made with were heavier, and not as fast, but they were durable. They survived. My father used to tell me cheerfully that a good tram never becomes obsolete, and therefore neither are good operators and engineers.”

“Sort of like the Galactica.”

“Yes, it does sound similar doesn’t it? It all began disappearing though – long before I was born even.

All the old railway families had to adapt with the changes… and the loss as the rails shut down and the trams were scrapped.”

“And you ended up in the military?”

“My uncle, my father’s eldest brother, had served as a pilot in the first war. I listened to his stories when I was very young, and it wasn’t all that much different from what I had known already.” A wry smile lights across his face. “Listen to the people in charge, because they usually know what they’re doing, and it can save your life.”

“Ever did anything incredibly stupid?”

“Oh, plenty.”

And with that short transition, it shifts to bunk bed boyhood tales, light and fun and gone. The colder flesh-deep memories of the past slowly drifts back to its slumber, having bled out enough for one night.

---

After that singular night in the bar tent, Louis returned to his post in space. They would not meet face-to-face again for a time as the weather finally closed in, and the settlement, and time, froze, becoming bitterly cold.

When the sickness arrived, no one could bring themselves to remember the warmth of those summer celebrations, for fear of the tears and regrets that would freeze on their faces. Talking had become a privilege as the infection set in, stealing away voices, and colors, and life.

It was not any one thing, or even any major thing that broke the camel’s back. Gaeta had faced trouble after trouble in Baltar’s stead since his inauguration and settlement began. If a broken crush was heartbreaking enough, so be it. (There have been worse heartbreaks since the cylons came back, and more would come when they returned.) Instead, the steady grind only made him dig in on the slippery slope as they all headed towards the precipice.

He was sure, in the beginning, that things would resolve themselves and improve eventually, that the government and the President would eventually pick up its head and move on for the people. He had the president and the people’s dreams and plans drawn by his own hands to believe in.

Baltar’s lofty hopes and dreams only skimmed its toes along the surface of the reality of mother necessity. Instead, the first man dies on the twenty-first day of the winter season on the planet in the midst of razor-sharp silence. It is cold, grey and blustery, and he is old and without family, with only the neighbors he has gained since he survived the apocalypse during a short trip between different quadrants of space to visit his grandchildren (all dead). There isn’t much to be said, but it ripples across the settlement like a silent shot fired across the battlefield. The target is easy, and the protests and declarations flood the president’s office like the Earthshaker’s own monster. The president who is safe and relatively comfortable and warm in the cabin of Colonial One, indulging in every excess he could as more and more reports of deaths and strikes came in each morning.

Like their cylon hunters, the disease was indiscriminate in choosing its victims, dangerous because it fell both the healthy and sickly alike, and while the former usually survived and the latter died, it left most of the colony incapacitated. Soon, the maze through tent city became abandoned, empty of pedestrians except for the doctor and what personnel they’d been able to find or gather. These were volunteers, most of whom had been early victims to the infection but survived with immunity. Most of those who weren’t sick, understandably, didn’t want to get sick and avoided anyone who so much as breathed roughly.

The casualties usually limped their way over the threshold of mortality – men, women, children. Only some were lucky enough to have loved ones close by to care for them. Others were fortunate to have strangers at their side. Arguments and fights broke out across the settlement like scatters of machine gun fire on a quiet front.

As it was, little could be done with the limited supplies at hand, and Gaeta, it turned out to always be him, would show up at Cottle’s tent inquiring, piles of paperwork in hand, trying to put a support system in place, but it wasn’t enough.

---

Looking back, Louis had been the logical, the practical choice. Felix knew this. Perhaps Dee might have had more pull to get him what he needed, but because he was doing all of this behind the president’s back, he didn’t want to get her in trouble – the population couldn’t afford another civilian-military rift. Also, Louis moved on the fringes. He could move more quickly with less notice. (He remembers this later, when he himself has to move similarly.)

All the same, the guilt welled up when he sent the first message to him by electronic mail coding with the digits for an isolated radio length. Can we talk? A56.B28 Tmr 20-00h

The next night, he sat anxiously in the small communications compartment, having paid his way past Zarek’s guard with cigarettes. (The vice president was fortunately competent, but unfortunately focused on altogether different items on his agenda.) The fear of being stood up made the wait borderline intolerable.

Though when the signal lit up and static filled the handheld, he kept his sigh of relief inside. “Louis?”

“A strange first date, don’t you think?”

The laugh that came in response was weak, and immediately, the tone on the line was somber. “What’s wrong?”

“We don’t have enough medicine, and the illness is spreading. What Zarek is procuring through his own means won’t be enough to support all the people or even most. We need new sources.”

There was no sound on the other end of the line at first, only static, and for a moment, Felix was worried that the line had cut off.

“What do you need?” And if he believed more certainly, Felix would have thanked the gods that Louis remembered about adapting with what they were given.

“I need some of the equipment from the labs and medbay on Pegasus. The facilities should have some scanners, burners, and some vials I can use to produce extracts. A microscope would also be useful.”

The next day, Felix goes on his first venture into the forest, trying to remember what Cottle had said of possible herbs along the lake shores and at the border of the barrens. This was the magical strip of fertile land that separated the colony from the glacial poles of New Caprica, where the spring and summer melt of the ice and snow flowed down with the river and into the lake that fed streams through the forest. Carefully, carefully he collected and documented, brought back bottles filled with water from the far side of the lake. There was no predicting what could be useful.

Three weeks later, Louis was to send the equipment down with the monthly courier to the surface. Instead, the alarms rang on the battlestars, and they jumped away as basestars surrounded the vulnerable colony. Felix could see and hear the raiders as they screamed across the sky above tent city from his front seat view at the steps leading up to Colonial One. He had been planning to explore further to the northwest that morning, when the sunlight was still strong.

No.

---

Baltar surrendered, and even as the cacophonies of nonononoNO continued to circle around inside his head, his face was still smooth as he stood still behind the President and met the occupying force face to face.

A few moments later, and Zarek was on his knees, blood dripping from his temple.

“And you, will you cooperate?”

He looked into Baltar’s watering eyes and knew his answer even as the no’s continued circling, “Yes.”

“Good, that’s a smart boy.”

---

Among the cylons’ first supplies brought down to the planet were antibiotics and a nuclear bomb.

---

Three days later, curfew was established, the detention center was being fortified, and centurions were patrolling every street. People had already disappeared, and all of the laughter, all of the hope that had been on the planet even at its bleakest moments was gone. The cylons proved that they were nothing if not efficient.

All he could do was search the skies at night, looking up, up, and further outwards. Somewhere in space, there was something to live for.

His hand fell away from his forehead and fell on sheets and sheets of papers and plans. He had made sure that they were indecipherable to almost everyone else.

---

Louis sat in his bunk, head bent down, his eyes glued to the grilling in the metal floor and trying to drill right through it. Into space. Through a nebulous cover that had failed them. All of them.

Think. Think. There has to be a plan… He had to have had one.

---

III. a magnitude

The next four months were blurred beyond recognition. Its length was but a figment of man’s attempts to measure the strength of human experience and thought, of consciousness. The occupation ran collective emotions along a spectrum from pain and desperation to the most fervent of hope and joy.

“There is no happiness without the knowledge of sadness.” said the philosopher Clotho, who wrote that each human was born into its life with both in set amounts, waiting to be experienced. Birth and death are controlled and known; what, if anything, lies after is all unknown. When the thought liberation movement swept through the colonies in the gamma quadrant, her texts were burned by the hundreds until only a handful remained in the sturdiest and most secret libraries, archived for later generations of humanity bound to come after to read again, to understand that fate has many different forms of meaning.

When the cylons were well and truly settled alongside them, only the most quiet, silent, and sturdiest of prayers were whispered through the chapped lips of stalwart believers and indignant disbelievers. (These prayers were screamed and sobbed out when fire lit up the sky and hands and knees finally fell back onto metal decks.)

Mostly, the settlers just want to survive long enough to be free by their own choice, to no longer have to face these walking reminders of past mistakes and losses. The choices made by each individual defined the path of their entire civilization.

---

“Their enemies will divide them, their colonies broken in the fiery chasm of space. The shining days renounced by a multitude of dark sacrifices. Yet, still, they will remain. Always together."

Hoshi’s eyes never leaves Racetrack’s face as the words are spoken, as he mentally crosses every appendage he has and feels his organs all knot up inside. He likes to believe it’s because these people across the line, the faces he stares into, will most likely disappear into the abyss and never return from their mission, because many people will die – have already died, and will continue to die as time moves onward without pause.

However, in all honesty, his mind is mostly preoccupied with the last time he heard Felix’s voice over the receiver, tense with nerves, anxiety and excitement as he asked for his help. Was it really months ago? As always now, memories of the sound of his voice brought back images from his short leave on New Caprica, when it was still bright, warm, and alive. Still safe. Always together. Behind the back of the person he is embracing, he crosses his fingers. Let him come back safely. Please.

---

“An idealist. There's no sin in that. Everything you say about me is true. Every word. But you have to listen to me...”

The rest of Baltar’s words drift on a distant current, but the message is clear: Let me go, and I’ll try my best to fix this. And though he hates it, hates himself for it, Gaeta lets him go.

Because he wants to believe in this man one last time.

Because Gaeta wants to believe that if this man can redeem himself, then he can redeem himself as well, and it breaks everything inside of him to admit to himself that he still wants this man to actually save him. A man who had been unwilling to even attempt to save everyone on the execution list of over two-hundred.

And from the time it takes for his feet to carry him from Colonial One to a small transport where two men carrying guns sees him wandering and drags him aboard, he realizes that there’s nothing else he can do now, and he cries.

---

Louis fights hard to clamp down on the twinge of jealousy he feels when Dee is the first to embrace Felix with a soft smile and even softer words as he steps off the small raptor with some of the other (former) military personnel that had been planet side, scattered about in the exodus.

Trying to distract himself from the unwelcome feelings, he focuses on some of the other arrivals, trying to check if any familiar faces were among them though he doubts it and is startled and worried to notice several dark looks shot in the direction of Felix and Dee. Others just walk around the two as if a plague circles them and a necessary distance has to be kept at all times.

A hard nervous pit settles at the bottom of his stomach. It no longer has anything to do with jealousy.

---

One positive result from the destruction of the Pegasus (a possibly selfish positive, but he takes any that he can get) is that they are now all stuck on the bucket together, and it’s only on Galactica that he can keep an eye on Felix.

He does so, assiduously. To the point where he sees Felix’s frustrations grow and expand. Whatever work Felix’s allowed to do, he does until exhaustion.

Something is broken inside of him, and Louis thinks that maybe he and Dee are the only ones willing to get close enough to notice. Everyone else keeps their distance from that-traitor-Felix-Gaeta, his name spat out in a spew of bottled up hatred and anger. He watches as Dee tries to protect him, to fix him (as she has tried so often before with so many others), but it fails, and Louis never even tries it. He understands from the years he’s watched the families on the tramways coax broken machine parts back to life. Some things aren’t to be fixed, but with a little care and time, they can be understood, can be guided, and with patience, come back to life. Felix can only heal himself. He can’t be fixed. But Dee tries anyway, and Louis doesn’t – can’t – begrudge her that. He sees enough to know that Felix needs all the friends he could find on this ship turned stranger. At least she cares.

The day before President Roslin announces her decision to pardon the collaborators in the fleet and establish a “truth and reconciliation” commission, Felix returns late from his shift and dinner, pale and shaking. Hoshi holds him as he shakes, the sobs finally escaping, and when he sees the look in Felix’s eyes, he understands. He starts talking, rambling really, about Cain, about searching for pulses on dead corpses, about the XO who spoke up and how he never dared to even when people died for his silence.

Felix is settled in his arms, in his bunk with him, and when he starts repeating himself about how sometimes, bad things out of your control (who you work for, what people think, angry religious robots) can only be withstood, can’t all be put right, Felix decides the best way to stop him is to kiss him.

The kiss is hard. Louis is tempted to describe it as desperate, but it isn’t quite that. Instead, Felix moans into his mouth before letting go, and they slump onto the bunk together, boneless and breathless.

“I’m tired.”

“I know.”

They sleep that night, together with nothing else said. The shared space all they needed for the moment, knowing that their entwined fingers and tangled arms would keep them connected.

---

The quiet fervor of their first kiss, caught between the blood spattered CIC of the Pegasus and the hysterical farce of a trial in the cold bays of Galactica’s airlock, at first seemed to have faded. As with everything else, the relationship came later.

Hoshi is the first to accept the Gaeta who comes back from New Caprica as he was, something even Gaeta himself had trouble with, but as new crises replaced the old, the crew began settling down. Seelix invites him into one of the pilots’ triad games, Narcho asks him to spot him in the gym, and Dee begins joking and prodding him again without all the worried glances and double-takes.

Louis and Felix exchange small gestures the way they exchange shifts from hour to hour and day to day. It’s not any one thing that they say out loud, but somehow, in the course of their flight from the Colonies, from New Caprica, they have managed to grab hold of each other and have decided not to let go.

Their relationship never becomes prized gossip, never becomes the blunt end of jokes. Instead, it slips into general knowledge as easily as water sluices the veins of a leaf. Down many different paths but always gathering at the tip. And if they find themselves mysteriously bunked together without others about - no doubt set up by Dee and whoever else from communications or on staff she wrangled to help that day - well, the boots outside the hatch were a kind gesture to the others all the same.

A kiss here and a quiet night of observation there. It might have remained as constant, as steady and fluid as simple rain on leaves.

If only.

If only Baltar hadn’t come back. (Louis wakes each day and tries to count each line of shadows under Felix’s eyes. Felix can only remember, dreaming in fits and starts of broken hopes and useless plans and screams.)

If only Starbuck hadn’t come back right after.

---

Gaeta is slowly going out of his mind he thinks. Baltar’s return on a Cylon basestar leaves an unpleasant taste in his mouth, all the more so when they want the directions to their only remaining hope, their only remaining dream: Earth.

He won’t let them- he won’t let Baltar take it away from them.

As it constantly seems, he almost succeeds, but he misses, and with it, people have returned to watching him carefully like an animal in a cage, and he has to keep from snapping at them (especially when some of them only want to help). Louis holds him and talks only of trains and trips through silent mountains and cracking boulders and Zeus’s thunderbolt. He falls asleep to the sound of his voice, wishing for it all just to be over, clinging to the comfort of whatever they had, to what they have for however long it would last.

---

There has only been a few times that he has hated and loved Admiral Adama equally, the commander he had always respected, but Gaeta’s disbelief clearly shows on his face when the admiral outlines the dictates of their mission. The Demetrius. Starbuck. It’s with bitterness that he realizes that they were all being used as cannon fodder on this possibly suicidal mission following a clearly out-of-her-mind Kara Thrace who may not even be human, who may be leading them all into a cylon trap. The faces of those surrounding him in the wardroom may have been similarly revealing, but they would all listen, because he is the Old Man, and the reason why he’s trusting Starbuck is the reason why most of them are here on this ship, in this room. He stares at Athena and Helo in the corner of the briefing room, whispering quietly to each other.

At the very least, he needs to believe that.

All the same, he counts eight pilots in the room and wonder how they could possibly afford to lose them. Never mind all the other members of the crew.

---

Louis is desperate. He wants to ask him not to go on this mad mission, but he can’t get the words out correctly. Because there is no correct way to say them. And so, he asks instead, “Teach me?”

“What?” Louis’s hand is sweaty where it grips him, simultaneously tugging at fabric and sticking to the skin just above his wrist.

“How to plot the jumps.” His voice is steady in a way that his eyes are not.

“You know how. Every CIC officer has had training for it. You had to plot them for Cain on the Pegasus.”

Louis’s eyes are abnormally piercing in the following silence. ‘You know that’s not what I asked’

He keeps his eyes on Felix, who is scrambling around his desk packing up charts and tools for the trip. Keeps his words as direct as he can keep them.

“You know – I’ve heard the stories about when this old ship first escaped across the red line – how everyone was tailed by the Cylons, constantly jumping every thirty-three minutes. Every gods damned thirty-three minutes. I hear about the exhaustion everyone suffered, how the pilots had to depend on stims just to not crash. It was all horrible, but no one ever mentions…” He pauses, as if stuck telling, mid-narrative, about a story he’s never been able to hear completely, just piecing together the parts that framed the blank spots. (He understands though, from the Pegasus. Sometimes, people just don’t want to remember how it is they have survived. People left behind cursing at them. A ship destroyed. Ships stripped and abandoned. It’s all very non-tell-able. Not the little details. Falling asleep in the head. Plotting and calculating coordinate after coordinate just hoping that there would be no star or other massive gravity well in the way.) “How did you do it?”

“Do what?” Felix knows that there was more to Louis’s question than what he wants to say, but there’s no answer he’s capable of giving.

“Tell me – tell me how you plot the jumps. Humor me.” There is no humor in his voice however, and there’s an uncommon sharpness in the timbre.

Taking the out he is given, Felix answers the question very literally. He drags a sheet of paper from the pile of printouts on his desk. Shoulder to shoulder, he shows Hoshi the beauty of space for its potential to be filled in any one spot. “Nothing exists in vacuum until you fill it in.” He shows Louis his drawings, shows how vector fields can fall beautifully across star maps and coordinates. Explains how maps and maps of these can be overlapped, traced, and connected in a vast pattern that outlines the fleet’s journey as it had been so far. As it will be.

Louis listens, eyes, ears and fingers following Felix’s guidance (always the navigator even when teaching). In this way, he sees, a bit, the way Felix’s mind worked at a fevered pace to keep them all alive – again and again and again. His fingers eventually reaches Felix’s in the middle of a vortex, where the heads of the vectors all point in, coordinates 3.7, 6.9, 2.0, and there is silence as he finally stops explaining. Their fingertips barely brushing.

“I can’t do this, Felix. No one can.”

So come back from this. Come back from whatever this quest is that you’ve been dragged into. Just come back.

Felix’s fingers move atop his. “You better be able to. You’ll be programming the jumps while I go along.” Felix’s smile is half-forced – meant to comfort in its odd way. “I don’t want to get back only to see that you’ve all been sucked into a black hole to gods know where.”

“Please don’t give me any ideas. I’ll be nervous enough with the XO breathing down my neck.”

Felix laughs, and Louis prays to the gods that it will not be the last time he hears it, even as he bends forward to cover his laugh with his own smile.

---

It burns. It feels as if everything burns. How could a single bullet be so frakking painful?

He vaguely remembers begging, begging Helo to bring them back.

He remembers begging him not to let them cut the leg off, infection or no, and in his delirium, he remembers a movie he once saw when a hero in the midst of war, facing amputation, instead walked off to face his death proudly.

He wishes he were that brave, that strong. And somewhere in the back of his mind, a voice – it sounds like Louis when he’s at his wryest – tells him, “It was a movie. It’s not real. Focus. This is real.”

When they are finally back (at least he thinks they are… along with some sort of cylon ship or something – so was it a trap?), he flashes in and out of reality as if he were jumping in and out of a movie. The flashing lights in medbay jolt him awake however, and he remembers begging, begging Cottle not to give him anything to knock him out. He wants to know what is really happening. If he’s going to lose his leg for whatever delusions someone else was having, then it would damn well be with him being not delusional and knowing exactly what was going on. It was surreal enough to find out he was going to lose his leg. He would need to remember the pain to remember it really happened. He doesn’t want a phantom haunting him, but that might well be unavoidable.

At the crunch of something splitting his femur, he feels acid burn its way up his throat.

Nonono…

---

Louis hears more than he cares to following the return of the Demetrius. He has never been a violent person, but the mere mention of the ship’s name makes him want to punch someone or something.

Instead, he decides to focus his energy into something more productive. After his fourth attempt to sneak in to sickbay (he’s tried to “go away and come back” – they were the ones who didn’t specify how long to wait in between), Cottle gruffly pulls him into the office and tells him to head to the Prometheus to see if he’d be able to locate a prosthetic leg. He has a sheet of paper pulled from a folder in the middle of nowhere with approximate measurements.

“You’re not likely to find anything exact, but better something than nothing.” He pulls out another cigarette before shooing him out the door with the extra encouragement. “He’ll be lucid and awake in another three hours, so hurry up.”

---

“You have a beautiful voice. Where did you learn to sing?”

Felix’s eyes close as something inside settles down with that voice.

A pained smile follows as he opens them again to see Louis slide into the chair next to him.

“I must look as horrible as I feel if you compliment my voice first.”

“I’m impressed you can even have a conversation right now with how you look.” Louis’s right hand brushes lightly against his sweaty forehead, brushing away curls.

Felix grimaces, “To be honest, I probably can’t even do that without falling asleep on you right now - though there’s nothing else to do around here.”

Louis settles back determinedly into the chair, pulling it closer, his right forearm set right along Felix’s left. “Then just listen for now. I’ll speak and bore you, and you can fall asleep whenever you want.”

---

“You have a beautiful voice as well.” Felix’s head has fallen back to his pillow again, as if his neck is no longer strong enough to hold it up.

“Now, I know you’re very tired. And obviously, you’ve never heard me sing.”

“I’m not that tired, and no, I haven’t. But Dee told me.”

And Louis doesn’t even grudge the embarrassment that flares across his face at finding out that Dee and Felix has apparently talked about his shower ventures in music, because it is the first real smile, a true smile that he’s seen from Felix since his return.

“See? You are definitely out of your mind from exhaustion. I should probably let you rest now before Cottle – or worse, Ishay comes in to murder me. She’s gotten quite protective of you, you know. She was staring needles into me when I came in during your nap earlier before I had my shift.”

At this, Felix’s smile widens. “I was wondering why she wouldn’t meet my eyes when I asked her earlier if I had had any visitors.”

“So I can count on you to defend me if she comes after me with a scalpel to shoo me away?”

“I’d consider it.”

“You’re horrible.”

“I’m bored, and it would be entertaining.

“You’re still horrible.”

“Well, the president had dropped by earlier after her… own appointment. She gave me a book to read.” Felix waves vaguely in the direction of the thin paperback on the corner of his bedside table. “I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I already read that mystery before – read the ending three times.”

“That was nice of her though.”

Felix glances to the side. “It was.”

“Anyway, all jokes about murderous nurses aside, I should go. You need your rest, and you are tired.”

“Okay then… I’ll see you tomorrow?”

The uncertainty and worry in his voice almost makes Louis change his mind about leaving – at all. It happens every time, and he can’t help but think that Felix has lost much more than a limb. But he only gives Felix’s hand one more squeeze and a gentle press of his lips to the palm. “It’s not even a question.”

Felix is drifting off as he finally gives up resisting the tiredness settling again into him. He thinks that maybe Cottle has added more medication to his regiment than necessary after the ordeal from the surgery. “Oh. And Louis? You might not sound very good when you sing in the shower, but you still-,” the next yawn gets the better of him, “have a beautiful voice.”

And that does make Louis flush bright red. “Sleep. Now. You’re starting to insist on talking crazy.”

---

The next few hours, days… weeks are hard. They are exhausted by the constant chaos that seemingly follows them at pace with no peace to be found.

The cylons. Starbuck. The president. The vice president. The admiral. The XO. The cylons – again – of course.

It is harder still for Felix who is stubbornly trying to show that he is not crippled.

Louis tries to convince him that it is not necessary to prove anything to anyone, but they end up in a rare shouting match which ends with each of them stuck in their own parcel of silence. Until Felix trips in his crutches entering their room and Louis is there for him to land on. They laugh then – though there are tears mixed in. Felix is in pain, and Louis doesn’t futilely wish to be the one in pain instead. He only wishes he has a cure for it, which, in his eyes, is less futile a wish.

Then, there was finally Earth. Earth, their grandest dream.

Earth was their death. A dead end.

---

Louis holds Felix in his arms in silence that night. He doesn’t cry, and Louis worries all the more for everything he’s keeping in.

“The morgue is damn cold.”

“I know.”

“…”

“I wonder where they’ll hold the funeral.”

“Lee got Dee’s belongings.”

“You can go as-“

“No.”

And that was that.

---

“Go. Feel better. I’ll be waiting.”

He had gotten too comfortable with Felix’s returns (from New Caprica, from the Demetrius). Too comfortable with seeing him come back to him, standing there with pieces missing but still alive and warm. He doesn’t realize his mistake until it is too late to do anything else but watch as Felix disappears into the dark, wondering if he could have done something, anything. -If he could have told him, “I don’t need you to protect me.”

In his dreams the nights after, he sees Felix, kneeling face to face with him in brown dirt and green grass, and he is smiling. His hands cover Louis’s ears as he leans in. Happy. Speaking silently but splendidly clearly.

I love you.

For as long as we have…


Fin.

A vector is defined, but a line can stretch on forever.



“Each time that one of our cells split as a form of reproduction, as our DNA replicates itself to make sure our information flows on undisturbed, a little piece is taken away. The ends of our chromosomes literally unwind themselves, and so we age, and we die…

Our nerve cells form during gestation, and when we are born, only one out of every fourth nerve cell survives. Others are killed automatically by signals our bodies send out. They are the only cells in the body that we don’t get more of, because they don’t replicate.

If we think of it this way, the permanence of our existence relies on these very cells that cease to self-perpetuate, because our biology orders it so. We are meant to end.

However, hope lies in cognition, in recognition, in fact, that at our ends, we may find new beginnings.

Examples of this have been found in the scriptures and writings of leaders of religion and thought throughout time. Pythia has referred to it as repetitive, but Clotho in turn defies the constant nature of it – though current analysis of her writings often mistaken it as simply further support for fate and its cyclical habits.”

- An excerpt from a Colonial text of natural philosophy and physiology by Dr. Kendall Benet



End Notes: I saw in some of the character resources provided by the BSG wiki that Gaeta had been doing studies in biogenetics, and his knowledge of systems and in calculating coordinates (which always brings to mind a mixture of mathematics and physics in my head – especially vectors) led to some of the parts of the story above… I hope… they fit, and that this is okay…

(no subject)

Date: 2011-08-24 12:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lls-mutant.livejournal.com
Oh, this was FANTASTIC! I loved it. Doing the ship swap is such a great idea, because this is a new headcanon and lovely and there is just so much about this that I adored. The natural progression of their relationship, slow and steady and undramatic but with dramatic events all around is just... so how I picture them. There was a beautiful melancholy to this that fit the time and the relationship so well.

Louis's background with the trains and how that played into Cain was so fascinating. While I loved every second of this, I think that was my favorite part of the fic. (I love seeing various Hoshi backstories.) It was such a neat backstory.

I loved the scene where Felix was leaving on the Demetrius and Louis asked him to explain the jumps because he couldn't say goodbye any other way. That just broke my heart.

The whole fic was amazing, and you did a fantastic, fantastic job. Thank you so much- this made me so incredibly happy!!!!! :)

(no subject)

Date: 2011-08-25 12:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] obsessive-a101.livejournal.com
Yay! *jumps around happily* I was so very worried, but I'm glad you like it. :)

As for the headcanon, I think that was one of the most fun parts of writing this fic, particularly with characters I didn't know all that well, and Hoshi who we hardly know anything about at all. The parallel with Hoshi and Cain and what his role would have been during the time period before they found Galactica became a rather curious thing for me, and I think I may actually might want to explore it more, but for now, I'm just so very happy that you actually like this - I was so worried that it might end up a disaster. LOL

(no subject)

Date: 2011-08-24 03:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] somadanne.livejournal.com
This is a truly fascinating piece. I loved the quiet pace of this and how you explored the events going on along with Gaeta and Hoshi's quiet relationship.

There are so many phrases and observations that really stood out for me--I love the way you put this:

Talking had become a privilege as the infection set in, stealing away voices, and colors, and life.

This was chilling:

Among the cylons’ first supplies brought down to the planet were antibiotics and a nuclear bomb.

And this just says so much and is so, so good:

If he’s going to lose his leg for whatever delusions someone else was having

I truly enjoyed all of your Gaeta/Hoshi moments and the way you fleshed out their relationship by giving them these things.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-08-25 12:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] obsessive-a101.livejournal.com
Thank you! It was certainly a new experience, and a new relationship to explore. :)

I'm glad I tried the ship-swap now because it was interesting to try to get into their heads and try to make it real, and learn a bit along the way about the characters themselves.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-08-24 08:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] embolalia.livejournal.com
Your writing here was really, really gorgeous. You created such a haunting sense of what life was like on New Caprica, and the slow building of their connection. The little bit of humor in sick bay was perfect, too. I feel like you know them so well, and now I've gained a little bit of insight to them through this. Really lovely job!

(no subject)

Date: 2011-08-25 12:09 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] obsessive-a101.livejournal.com
*bows head gratefully* Thank you! This means a lot to me actually because it's the first time I ever really tried to write their relationship (or these characters in genera), and I really wanted it to feel... right, and I'm just... really glad. :)

Thank you for reading and the feedback! :D Now, I can actually go back and start reading the other fics. :D

(no subject)

Date: 2011-08-25 12:59 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lorrainemarker.livejournal.com
Your writing in this story has a gentleness which really lends itself to Louis and Felix's relationship. I'll echo some of the other comments on how much I loved your pacing. There was a perfect mix of texture and detail and what I'll call blank canvas in the story. You gave enough to anchor our images of their relationship, while leaving enough canvas to fill for each reader to make the story their own. You already know my favorite part was when Louis asked Felix to walk him through the jumps before Demetrius. It felt very real to them and Louis' both loving Felix and giving him space at the same time.

Unfortunately, Felix/Louis in canon was an ad hoc add-on, which meant it wasn't particularly well developed. The one thing I did notice and truly like was how very tactile they were. In every scene where they were together, they touched. Every single scene. That tactile part of their relationship is something I always look for in a Gaeta/Hoshi story. You captured it so well at so many points.

This is a wonderful addition to the Felix & Louis' story and honestly, should be crossposted to [community profile] gaeta_squee.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-08-25 03:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] obsessive-a101.livejournal.com
Thank you! Also, thank you for all your advice and patience when reading through this and for your observations throughout.

*hugs* (I hope you are feeling much better now.)

And ah! I was thinking of doing that but wasn't sure, but I'll put up a link. :)

(no subject)

Date: 2011-08-25 01:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pocochina.livejournal.com
I. you. just. This is gorgeous. ♥

~I love how you've explored New Caprica from Felix's perspective, and how quickly things went to shit even before the Cylons - and of course he would step in and take the initiative contacting the Pegasus, because it's what he always does.

~Thank you for your Dee. she's perfect, and it's nice to see her get a little companionship. (And that you fit Laura in, natch.)

~ooooh, their backstories killed me.

~I love how you've described Felix's trauma, even before the Demetrius - it's beautiful prose describing something so realistically ugly - he's always sympathetic, not martyred. And Hoshi is beautifully fleshed-out here, that quiet strength (no wonder he gets along so well with Dee) and refusal to give up.

This is so beautifully done.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-08-25 03:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] obsessive-a101.livejournal.com
*hugs you* Thank you for reading! And YAY!

I think in writing this, I really hoped and tried and wanted to stay as true to the characters as possible and try to fill in their stories as I went along, and I'm really glad you enjoyed it! I had hoped it wouldn't be too awkward, and also really enjoyed trying to figure out how everyone else around them would act and be (and Laura!!!!! *huggles her* - even when she is not the center of attention, it's hard not to have her there).

And I really can't imagine New Caprica being all that successful without SOME efficiency and effort (and practical thinking) coming from the government somehow.

*HUGS!* again. THANK YOU for reading this and leaving this feedback. :D

(no subject)

Date: 2011-08-26 01:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] geekbynight.livejournal.com
This was just beautifully written. Both Felix and Louis as so well in character and there's a tender quality to your writing that works so well with their relationship. Your descriptions of all the traumas Felix goes through was so painful and evocative. I love the backstories for them too! You did a fantastic job with them on this. Lovely work!

(no subject)

Date: 2011-08-26 08:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] obsessive-a101.livejournal.com
Thank you so much - for both reading and the feed back, and I'm glad I managed to capture, at least a bit, the feelings inside the characters and between them.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-08-26 04:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] wishflsinfl.livejournal.com
This is such a lovely story. Your writing is beautiful and poetic and wonderfully understated at just the right times. I did something I don't usually do and split up my reading over the course a few evenings so I could really savor the story.

Your descriptions of New Caprica and the big and small events that Gaeta and Hoshi experienced are so rich in detail I felt like I was experiencing a lost episode at times. I also like how you captured a wide range of situations and emotions for them as their relationship progresses from the tentative first thoughts to a deep friendship and love. Fantastic job!

(no subject)

Date: 2011-08-26 08:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] obsessive-a101.livejournal.com
*blushes* Thank you so much for taking the time to read and enjoying and leaving the feedback.

And to be completely honest, I contemplated splitting it up into three parts. Unfortunately, I am so bad at updating that I was worried I would end up finally posting up the rest of it months down the road. XD

*hugs* Also, I still have to read yours! I was literally using it as my bait on a fishhook for me to complete my ship-swap fic so I could read without any guilt. LOL

(no subject)

Date: 2011-08-28 12:41 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kappamaki33.livejournal.com
That was gorgeous. I love the haunting moments, and the tender moments, and how it all blends together so well. I love how their relationship is quiet and steady and remarkable in its unremarkability in the face of all the craziness around them. I really, really enjoyed this!

(no subject)

Date: 2011-08-30 04:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] obsessive-a101.livejournal.com
Sorry it took a while for me to get back to this comment!

But thank you so much! For reading and the comments, and I think that's one of the most wonderful draws to their relationship. They always seemed so... steady.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-08-30 06:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] deborah-judge.livejournal.com
This is really interesting. I like the way you connect the development of their relationship with the bleakness and then the horror of life on New Caprica.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-08-31 02:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] obsessive-a101.livejournal.com
Thank you for reading and setting all of this up and for the comment.

I was a bit curious about what joined these two characters together, because we don't get much on screen, and this ended up coming out of it.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-09-14 05:16 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] millari.livejournal.com
I'm finally getting to comment on this, after having had a printout of it lying around for almost two weeks with comments written on it!

This was a lovely story to read, sweet and sad and full of such pretty prose. I'm not even that big of a fan of Gaeta/Hoshi, but you made me like them here. And I find Hoshi to be this kind of empty vessel in a lot ways in canon, but you made him noble and philosohpical here, in a way that I could believe heartily, because you do a good job of making me see as a reader how Hoshi is older and more experienced than Gaeta is, despite all that Gaeta has seen by the end.

On a more meta note, I was impressed by a lot of the writing here, especially how you used the idea of voices connecting people throughout the fic - the moment when Dee catches Louis singing, the way Gaeta and Hoshi are first just voices to each other, how Louis's voice replaces Dee's as she gets busy on the Pegasus, how Felix spots Louis by voice on Founder's Day, and also how when they have their so-called "first date", it's been arranged by phone, the same way they first noticed each other at the beginning of the story. There's a wonderful symmetry to the way you use this basic idea throughout.

Other things I liked were how you could be very quiet and subtle about your exposition - like when Gaeta is musing about what Billy Keikeya's job was like compared to his own. I love how you tell us the story of New Caprica's failure under Baltar without really saying much about it, just showing us Gaeta's annoyed musings and letting inference do the rest. Or how you talk about people's memories of family and loved ones, how these are not memories they want to babble about and share at some bid for their immortality, but rather how they are these precious jewels only shown to those who are truly special to them. (And I love the explanation you throw in there for why Gaeta was so drunk during D'Anna's interview - may I use that idea some day?)

The irony of having Felix be all shiny-eyed excitement about new advances in regenerating amputating tissue is so deliciously sad, btw. :(

In a similar vein, you broke my heart when Louis got all shiny-eyed about his forefathers and the tramway system then had to bury the awful memory of stripping the civilian ships on Admiral Cain's orders.

And the moment where you describe how Gaeta was pulled onto that Raptor and he finally fell apart when he no longer had a task staring him in the face, was so affecting. What a beautiful way to close the section on New Caprica. And I love Louis' musings on how Dee tries cluelessly to help Felix once he is back.

The writing where you describe how the crew slowly comes to accept Gaeta again is just masterful. And of course the ending is beautiful too.

Great fic!

(no subject)

Date: 2011-09-18 12:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] obsessive-a101.livejournal.com
Hi! I am so sorry it took me so long to reply to this, but I had to go through various phases of: *blushes*, awe, and differential modes of 'amazed' to form a somewhat coherent response to this amazing feedback/comment. :)

First, thank you - for reading and taking the time to comment.

Second, of course you can use that explanation for drunk!Felix.

Third, and more generally, I'm just very glad that you enjoyed the story and connected with the themes and characterizations. I think trying to find Hoshi, and in the end, trying to see what connected him to Gaeta and made this relationship work (and not work) in canon was one of the best and most fun parts of writing this story, and so I am really happy that he worked for you.

With regards to the sad irony in Felix's studies, and what happens later, I noticed that as well. Even I'm not sure/don't-quite-remember if I did that deliberately or not, but the story went that way, as I thought back to my own lectures in cellular biology and genetics. :(

As for the theme with the voices, yay! I'm glad you caught onto that. :D

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