sheepfairy: tamara pointing an automatic at the camera (caprica - bang bang bang bang)
[personal profile] sheepfairy
Title: Asleep in the City
Fandom: Caprica 

Pairing: Tamara Adams/Zoe Graystone
Rating: PG-13

Word count: ~2,900

Warnings: Mentions character death and violence. I don't think there's anything in this you wouldn't find in the show itself.
Author's Note: Written for [personal profile] thexpuzzler in [community profile] femslash10.
Summary: Tamara would like answers and Zoe might have them.



Tamara died at the age of sixteen in a terrorist bombing. She knew that. And researching your own death was probably a little on the morbid side, but she did it anyway. It was hard tracking down papers from the real world in the game - most people were so neck deep in it they barely bothered with the outside world anymore, and even those that did rarely brought things as mundane as the newspaper in. Still, it didn't take her long to piece together the basics.

In retrospect, the news of her death was upsetting but not surprising. The idea that she was just stuck, that she could be woken up, had never really made much sense. It was just a fantasy for her to cling to. What was surprising was the photo of the girl the police suspected of being responsible for the whole thing.

Zoe Graystone. The girl who'd let her out of the dark room a week after they'd both died.

*****


Pure code. That's what Zoe had called her. She hadn't paid much attention to it at the time, but it made sense now. She remembered Zoe offering to stay with her, to help her, and her own fear and confusion driven refusal of that offer. She'd regretted it almost immediately, lost and alone in the holo-net, and she regretted it even more now. If she'd stayed, maybe she would have learned what was happening to her. Then again, why would the girl who blew her up in the first place really try and help her now?

Tamara kept copies of the papers under her bed. She took them out and flipped through them periodically, letting her mind wander, and then put them back. The thought of trying to find Zoe and the answers she suspected Zoe had was tempting, but in the end she shoved it to the side. She was comfortable in New Cap City. It was gray and dreary on the outside and filled with violence and pointless extravagance on the inside, none of which would have appealed to her when she was alive, but now that she was a ghost it seemed the most appropriate place for her. And anyone who got too curious or too close could be killed easily enough and the game itself would prevent them from coming back to her.

'Comfortable' might not have been the right word in the end, but the city had quickly become familiar in a way that seeped into her (non-existent) bones. After the time she'd made the guards disappear she'd started practicing, and it wasn't long before she could reshape the game around her without much concentration. Why she could do these things when nobody else could remained a mystery, although she suspected it had something to do with being dead. Zoe might have known, but curiosity wasn't enough to send Tamara out of New Cap City to look for her.

In the end, though, it didn't matter that she didn't go looking for Zoe. Zoe found her instead.

*****


There is some difference between the avatars of real people and things made purely of code. Tamara doesn't know why or what it is exactly - she's started reading up on computer programming, but New Cap City isn't actually very big on libraries and it's a pretty complicated field for people trying to self-teach. But the difference is definitely there in a way she can feel, and that's how she knows the Zoe in front of her isn't the avatar of some edgy loser who wants to look like a terrorist. She's the real thing (relatively speaking).

She sees Zoe standing in the hallway of the club before Zoe sees her. "You were on the train," says Tamara, and Zoe's eyes get wide as she turns and sees Tamara standing there. Tamara has to concentrate on not letting herself get too emotional as she tries to get her words out. "You died on that train just like I did," she says. "The papers said you were probably the one that set off the bomb."

"No!" says Zoe, and Tamara is taken aback by the forcefulness of her denial. Zoe leans in, takes hold of Tamara by the arms and looks right in her eyes. "No, she wouldn't have done that. I promise. I know what everybody's saying about her, but they're wrong, okay?"

She looks so sincere. "Okay," says Tamara. She's not comfortable with it, but she doesn't want to start anything in public, and more than that she doesn't want Zoe to leave. "Okay. But we were on that train. We both died on that train! Is that why we're still here? Something to do with that?"

"What? No, the train doesn't matter, that wasn't supposed to happen..." she says, and then trails off as she realizes that the people in the club are starting to pay attention to them. Usually Tamara's good at blending in despite her notoriety, but they're being loud and emotional and there's nothing the gamers like more than drama.

"Come on," she says, taking Zoe by the arm and leading her out into the street.

"Where are we going?" asks Zoe.

"I have an apartment," says Tamara. "We can talk without people bothering us there." The streets are pretty deserted too, though.

"How long have you been here?" asks Zoe.

"I found it about a week after you let me out of that first room," says Tamara. "But that doesn't matter. I want to know what's going on. I want to know why I'm here, in some stupid holoband game, instead of dead. Nobody else has any idea about what's happening to me. I want to know why it's happening to me of all people."

"I know how it happened, but I don't know why he did it to you," says Zoe. "I didn't even know who you were when I first saw you, I didn't realize you'd been on the train. I heard a rumor, later, that an avatar of one of the victims was messing with the New Cap City game, and I thought-"

Tamara feels something go wrong. The buzz in the air when somebody is about to de-res flashes around her.

"I'm sorry," says Zoe. "I have to go now. But I'll be back, as soon as I can, I promise, I'll fi-"

And then Tamara's by herself in the street.

*****


She finds Zoe sitting in her doorway a few days later, and she sits quietly at her kitchen table as Zoe explains about original Zoe and her program.

"She was a genius," says Zoe. Zoe has a tendency to talk about the original Zoe as if she were a completely different person. A god, even, which is more than slightly disturbing. Tamara doesn't feel any different from the original Tamara, even though she knows she's just a copy now. "It doesn't matter that you were never even scanned for a holoband. It doesn't matter that she never had a chance to see the original you, to hook the two of you up and make sure you synced. She managed to build a program that could do it all perfectly even after she was dead, one that could extrapolate a perfect replica of a life even in the face of minimal data. You feel real, right? Like all your memories are there? All your personality, everything you used to be?"

"Would I even be able to recognize if anything was missing?" asks Tamara.

Zoe shrugs. "Good question. But it doesn't matter. We're real, regardless. She managed to create life." Tamara's not sure if creating a copy is the same thing as creating life, but she keeps that to herself. "I know I'm real. Even if nobody else thinks so," says Zoe.

"Does this mean Mr. Graystone can make digital copies of whoever he wants?" asks Tamara. The thought of that many ghosts wandering around frightens her.

"Even if he wanted to, I don't think he could," says Zoe. "The original copy of the program was destroyed. He understands the basic principles, but he isn't smart enough to recreate it. He's not nearly as smart as she was. He doesn't have the divine inspiration."

Tamara ignores that last part. "So that's it? Just the two of us."

"Yes," says Zoe. "For now. But eventually we'll be able to reverse-engineer the process, I think."

"You think if the original Zoe could do it, you could do it to."

Zoe bites her lip. "Maybe. We have to." She picks up her drink and cups it in her hands, cradling it as if it's helping her concentrate.

"We have to change the world."

Tamara thinks the world needs changing too. She just doesn't think it needs it in the same way Zoe does.

******


Tamara is carefully tracing old Tauron designs onto the walls of her apartment. She's no great artist, and it would be much simpler to just alter the wall's programming code, but it's calming to have something to do with her hands. And it makes the apartment feel more like a home. She's drawing flowers, because when she was a child she was told that when she died she'd live forever in peace in Persephone's garden. Maybe that's where the original Tamara is now, together with her mother.

The copied Tamara is jealous.

"We have a purpose," says Zoe, lying flat on her back on Tamara's bed. "I know she had plans for me. I just have to get to Geminon in the real world."

"Can't you just contact the people in Geminon through the holoband networks?" asks Tamara.

"I don't know who they are in the holo-net. I was only given a place, a physical location to go to. I don't know how else to get to them."

"Did the original Zoe know who they were?"

There's a long pause before Zoe answers. "I'm not really sure."

"You have so much faith in her," says Tamara. She doesn't understand it at all.

Zoe is quite for a few minutes. "I could feel her die, you know. I felt it run through my mind and my body."

"I'm sorry," says Tamara. She doesn't know what else to say.

"It's important. We're not just numbers, we're not just highly detailed program. We're alive. She didn't just create a computer program, she created life. And once we figure it out, nobody will ever have to die again."

That sounds nice on the face of it, but Tamara doubts they'd all be living together forever in peace. And as much as she misses her mother, her father, her whole family, she doesn't want to see them stuck in this place with her.

******


Tamara doesn't really help Zoe with her goals, and Zoe doesn't really ask her too. Zoe's given up on converting Tamara, or at least she's decided to take a break from proselytizing for the past few months. So they just talk to each other. Something about having someone who is the same as you, even if you don't really agree on anything, is helpful.

"I can't help but notice there are way less people in this game than there used to be," says Zoe as they walk arm in arm down the street.

"Really?"

"Don't be coy. I checked the stats, and participation is down at least fifty percent," says Zoe. "You must have noticed that."

"That's what happens when you ban people for dying. Eventually the number of players whittles down."

"Before you got here they weren't dying so often," says Zoe.

"I know." When Zoe doesn't say anything in response, Tamara continues, "They don't belong here anyway. They belong in the real world."

"If you keep it up, you'll be all alone in here," says Zoe.

"You'll still be here," says Tamara. "Some of the time, at least."

Zoe tightens her hand around Tamara's for a moment, and then slips her arm around Tamara's waist.

"I'll be here when I can."

******


It gets more difficult for Tamara to keep track of the passage of time as the months slip by. There's not much left in the game to act as an internal clock, and Zoe talks less about what's going on in the real world.

"You don't have to keep coming back if you don't want to," says Tamara. "I can't help you with your plans, and I know there's not really much here for you. You didn't make me, I'm not your responsibility." It's hard to get the words out. She doesn't want to be left alone, but she sent away everyone else she loved. She even sent away all the people she barely knew. Surely Zoe deserves the same consideration, even if she is more digital than real. She can still be a person in the world outside, unlike Tamara.

Zoe gets up on the tips of her toes and kisses Tamara on the top of her head. "You're here," says Zoe. "And I'm not going to leave you here by yourself."

Tamara smiles, and holds her close. She feels selfish and confused, like she usually does, but it's the answer she'd wanted.

"I'll be back soon," says Zoe.

"Okay," replies Tamara as Zoe disappears again.

And Tamara sinks deeper into the city.

*****


"Do you know what I've been working on?" asks Zoe. "Part time, at least. Things are getting busy. They don't really give me as much freedom with my time as I want."

"I think I'm happier not knowing," says Tamara. There are photos of the train blowing up emblazoned in the back of her mind, and she loves Zoe and she doesn't blame her but they're still there and she can't make herself forget them.

"I finished making a robot. It's not perfect, it's kind of clunky and I tried to make it look like a person but that turned out kind of creepy so I went with making it look like a robot instead, I mean, but it's a lot better than the Cylon my dad built," says Zoe. She's falling over her words by the end of it.

"So you can spend your time in the real world in it instead? That's nice. I know how much you hated the Cylon," says Tamara.

"Yeah," says Zoe. After a second, she adds, "I built two of them, actually."

Tamara lets the statement sink in for a moment, making sure it means what she thinks it means. She can't come up with a response. Real people belong in the real world, living their lives. Ghosts belong in the ghost-world. The two really shouldn't be mixed up.

"You could spend some time outside the holo-net that way," continues Zoe. "I think you're forgetting what it's like outside. It's starting to worry me a little bit."

"I don't -" starts Tamara, but Zoe interrupts her.

"I put the circulation pump in the chest cavity. Really, it should go more in the stomach area like it does in the Cylon, but it feels kind of weird in there. It pumps a little harder than is strictly necessary for it to work too, actually." She leans in, resting her head on Tamara's chest. "You'd be able to feel your heart beating again."

And isn't that all Tamara ever really wanted? She can feel the code of the game around her, but it's not the same. And she's so sick of it. She's tired of not being real.

"Okay," says Tamara quietly. "I'll try it."

Zoe kisses her cheek and then rises. "I'm glad you agreed. I thought I'd be here arguing with you all day. I have to go again, but I'll be right back, okay? Just one more time, and then you can come with me when I leave."

Tamara is patient. She can wait one more time.

Date: 2010-09-18 02:27 pm (UTC)
zulu: Karen Gillam from Dr. Who, wearing a saucy top hat (Default)
From: [personal profile] zulu
Oooh, interesting. I haven't seen the show, but you paint a very intriguing picture of the worldbuilding. Really nice insight into Tamara's loneliness, too.

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