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18 December 2005 @ 11:41 pm
Pilots, Booze, and Dance Music  
You know how the fics for the bsg_ficathon were due, mumble mumble, over two weeks ago? Uh, I got kind of behind. But it's done now. It's the first piece of fiction (fan or otherwise) I've written in a long time, but I can still handle constructive criticism. Hey, if I can dish it out, I should definitely be able to take it.

Title: Pilots, Booze, and Dance Music
Rating: PG-13 for bad language and sexual references.
Characters: Helo & Starbuck friendship, Helo/Sharon, Starbuck/Apollo (mostly by inference)
Spoilers: None past Pegasus (2.10)
Disclaimer: Don’t own. Not making a profit. Not rich enough to bother suing.
“Where the frak are you going, Helo?” Starbuck asked, her eyes never moving away from her staring contest with Apollo.

He said the first thing that came into his head, “Uh, I figured I’d score some canapés for Sharon.” He didn’t add “And get the hell away from you two because you’re even scarier than my in-laws,” but he thought it. Hard.

Notes: This was my prompt: Character or pairing: Helo/Kara, Helo/Sharon, or Sharon/Apollo
Spoilers to: anywhere you want to take it is fine with me
3 things I want: dancing, drinking, and sexy/funny banter
3 things I don't want: death, babies (although a pregnant Sharon is okay)

I should point out two things:

1. The story started out as entirely banter-y and light-hearted, but midway through, it took on a mind of its own and got serious for a while. Sorry.

2. This was originally a much longer and more plotty story, but I couldn’t make it come unstuck, and I was already embarassingly late with my assignment owing to Real Life issues and illness. So I ruthlessly excised all the bits that weren’t working, and the story below is what’s left.

It wasn’t that he couldn’t dance. He could. It was just that he didn’t like to. Besides, it was the kind of thing you needed to practice to stay good at, and he was busy. There was a war on, after all. Yeah, back in high school people had made fun of him and acted like he couldn’t dance, but everyone was hopelessly uncoordinated when they were a teenager. It didn’t mean anything. He’d gotten pretty out of practice, what with the war, and the running away, and getting shot in the leg and all.

So when he first heard there was going to be a dance, he started dreading it. Well, he didn’t necessarily dread events where dancing took place, as those were usually fun, and always involved alcohol (even in high school), and music, and food you could eat with your fingers, and friends. But the actual dancing part wasn’t really his thing, and he didn’t usually participate. Not that he couldn’t. He just didn’t like to.

It was well known on Galactica that he didn’t dance, and most people had quit harassing him about it. Even Starbuck. Which was why he was too shocked to resist when she dragged him onto the dance floor while the music was playing. He found himself in the middle of the nightmare without even knowing quite how, which was actually how a lot of his Starbuck-related adventures had always gone. It just went to show that hanging out with her inevitably led to trouble.

And worst, he noticed as he looked at her more closely, she was really pissed off and a whole lot less sober than she had the last time he’d seen her. That had been twenty minutes before when she’d gone off to dance with Captain Adama. It looked like a lot had happened in twenty minutes.

“My gods, Helo, would you quit standing there like a statue and dance with me already?”

She had a point. Since other people were moving and he wasn’t, he was narrowly avoiding being bumped into by couples who looked irritated by his non-dancing presence. So he tried, he really did. He did know how to dance, after all. His big sister had taught him when he was a kid. Technically she hadn’t so much taught him as press-ganged him into being her dancing-practice person, and bribed him with candy when he whined about it too much. But he had learned, and people who said he couldn’t dance didn’t know what they were talking about.

He attempted to find the beat, and gamely started dancing. It wasn’t that tough as long as he concentrated. And he had to comply or risk the wrath of Kara Thrace, since she obviously wanted to be on the dance floor. Why she couldn’t have picked on some guy who actually liked dancing, he didn’t know.

But then again, maybe she’d picked on him for good reason. While being tall was often irritating (his feet tended to hang off the end of his rack, and he didn’t even fit in a Viper cockpit) it did allow him to see over the other couples and pick out Captain Adama standing by the drinks table looking both depressed and irritated. He knew exactly how the guy felt, although he’d bet twenty cubits they felt that way for very different reasons.

“Ow!” Starbuck exclaimed, and he realized that allowing his attention to drift away from the steps hadn’t been a good idea. “Frak it, guys with feet the size of boats should be more careful where they step.”

“Sorry. You know I don’t like dancing.”

“Yeah, yeah, you don’t like it because you suck at it.”

“I do not,” he protested, “I’m just out of practice. And if you want a good dance partner, why don’t you ask the CAG?”

She trod heavily and quite deliberately on his left foot, and he tried to suppress a wince of pain. But her only verbal response was a dismissive, “Oh please, like Mr. Uptight even remembers how to have a good time.”

Helo had known Starbuck long enough to be able to distinguish between a fake “I don’t give a frak” attitude and the genuine article. However, he’d also known her long enough to be scared of pissing her off when he didn’t need to, so he let it go for now. But Apollo was most definitely moping, and Starbuck wasn’t nearly as casual about it as she was acting.

He just hoped he didn’t get dragged into whatever the hell was going on there, and end up on Apollo’s bad side again. He’d spent a solid month pulling nothing but crappy shifts after their return from Kobol, until Apollo had finally decided he wasn’t a Cylon spy. From the look on the guy’s face as he watched them and clutched his jar of moonshine, Helo thought he might find himself the victim of horrible scheduling once again. Great, just great.

The music changed to something slower, sexier, with a saxophone wailing, and Kara took the opportunity to press a whole lot closer to him and wind her arms around his neck. And yes, their mutual boss was still watching them, and was still looking pissed off, and there was no way this evening was going to end well.

He should’ve hidden out in his rack or down in the brig, thus escaping both the risk of being forced to dance, and the risk of getting caught in the middle of whatever stupid game those two were playing. But no, he’d let himself be talked into it, by Starbuck of course (though that had been a Starbuck who’d been a whole lot less drunk, and wasn’t fresh off of some spat with another guy) and even Sharon.

The thought of Sharon, who’d told him to go, have fun, listen to the music, try not to break anyone’s toes, and enjoy the free booze, gave him an idea. He knew he wasn’t getting out of this one gracefully, but maybe he could at least get out of it.

“Uh, Starbuck, not that I don’t appreciate the full body shimmy and all, but you remember the part where I’m, you know, involved, right?”

“I didn’t realize toasters were so hung up on monogamy. What’ll she do if you stray: nuke you?”

And drunk or not, he wasn’t taking that, not from her. The jibes from the others he could deal with, even though they made him see red. But Starbuck was the best friend he had left, and she knew better. He pressed his lips together tightly to avoid saying anything he’d regret later, and tried to unwind himself from her without literally shoving her away.

“Gods, Helo, it was just a joke. Lighten up already.” She was blinking a little owlishly, and looking both belligerent and guilty, a combination he knew well.

“It wasn’t a very funny joke,” he reminded her, and she shrugged,

“Well, maybe I’ve had a little too much of the Chief’s home brew to be my usual fabulously witty self,” and it wasn’t an apology, but it was as close to one as he was likely to get with her in this mood, and she’d stuck up for him with other people often enough that he really had to cut her a little slack.

He regretted the slack-cutting decision a little later when her hands ended up on his ass and she looked flirtatiously at him,

“Come on, babe, for old time’s sake?”

He put her hands back in proper dancing position, one on his shoulder and one holding his hand, and said firmly, “I’m honoured, but I don’t think it’s a good idea. Anyway, you’re drunk.”

“Not that drunk,” she said, and on the bright side, she’d given up on making him dance, and they were standing at the edge of the dance floor. On the not-so-bright side, she was feeling him up again, and she’d just happened to steer him off the floor at a spot where Apollo had a nice, unobstructed view of them.

He sighed. He missed the days when his life hadn’t been quite so exciting. “Knock it off, Kara,” he said. “You want to make Apollo jealous, find some other patsy. I’ve got enough headaches with the guy already without you dragging me into your little drama with him.”

She said indignantly that she didn’t know what he was talking about, and he believed it as much as he believed in the Tooth Fairy. He steered them back onto the dance floor, unfortunately going the wrong way, so they bumped into another couple and he had to apologize. He wondered if he should just avoid public events altogether from now on.

After he was done apologizing, she leaned up and stuck her tongue in his mouth, conclusively proving from the taste that yes, she was drunk. As he pulled her off, he once again saw Apollo glaring at them. Actually, glaring at him.

It wasn’t fair. It should’ve been obvious that he was fending her off, not encouraging her, but Apollo was looking daggers at him like Helo had stripped her naked and poured ambrosia all over her. He just knew that somehow this was all going to end up being considered his fault.

“Enough already, Kara. Knock it off!”

“What’s your problem?” she asked sulkily. “It was just a little kiss.”

“No, actually you’re getting into Ellen Tigh territory. I’m serious here. Cut it out or find another partner.”

She said he was full of crap, but the comparison seemed to sober her up just a tad and she quit trying to molest him. He wondered gloomily how long the reprieve would last. Maybe he should swallow his pride and just run now. She must have sensed the panicked way he was eying the exit, because she tightened her grip on him and said, “Listen, Raptor Boy. I’ve pulled your ass out of the fire plenty of times. Is one little dance so much to ask?”

Oh goodie, they’d moved on to the emotional blackmail. And the problem with emotional blackmail was that it usually worked on him. This wasn’t usually a stunt Kara pulled (she usually skipped past that step and straight ahead into threats of violence), and he wondered what the hell she and Lee had been fighting about to make her want to parade another guy around like a trophy. Had to have been something pretty bad. He sighed and figured he could live with it. At least now she’d quit groping him.

Helo could hardly call this the worst experience of his life. The worlds had ended, his entire family was dead, he’d been marooned on a deserted planet after a nuclear war, he'd spent months running from genocidal toasters only to discover that his girlfriend was also a toaster, although not an evil one. Oh, and after all that time running from the Cylons, it’d been even more of a treat to have his closest brush with death be nearly getting executed by his own people.

Helo occasionally thought about all this (not often, since he liked his sanity, and avoidance worked pretty damn well most of the time) and became amazed that he wasn’t in a padded cell somewhere. But it was just as well he was coping, since all the other survivors were in the same boat. Well, not the same boat exactly, given that he formed 50% of the Girlfriend-turned-out-to-be-a-Cylon population and 100% of the Knocked-up-his-Cylon-girlfriend population. Also 100% of the Still-dating-girlfriend-after-finding-out-she-was-a-Cylon population.

But everyone else’s life was just as frakked-up as his, even if they weren’t all frakked-up in such a strange way. Starbuck was a case in point. Actually, though, it wasn’t fair to blame the holocaust for Starbuck: she’d always been this way.

Truth be told, and factoring in the whole post-apocalyptic perspective, this dance definitely wasn’t the most upsetting thing that had ever happened to him. But for sheer personal awkwardness, it ranked up there as one of the most embarrassing experiences of his life. The third most embarrassing, he figured.

He couldn't really classify it above the time he'd gotten drunk at his future-brother-in-law's bachelor party and said that no, he didn't think he wanted his sister marrying Mr. Obnoxious Stockbroker. And it definitely ranked below the time when he was fifteen, making out with a girl, and had come in his pants. But this was definitely the most embarrassing thing in his experience that he hadn't brought on himself.

It really wasn’t fair. He liked to think he’d been a pretty decent friend to Kara. Granted, at one point there’d been some damn good bonuses to the friendship, but that had passed long ago, and had only ever been casual. He’d never done anything to justify being the goat she was using to taunt Apollo. He vaguely remembered stories of hunters tethering goats in clearings and lying in wait for the tiger to come and take the bait. The stories rarely ended well for the tiger, but never ended well for the goat.

Getting distracted by wildlife parallels was probably a bad idea, even if it did take his mind off wondering what horribly embarrassing thing Starbuck was likely to do next, and how Apollo would kill him. He cannoned into Racetrack and some guy whose name he couldn’t remember. He really should know people’s names when he had to apologize for stepping on their feet.

“It’s true. I heard the stories, but I didn’t realize they were all true until I saw it with my own eyes. You can’t dance for shit.”

He protested, “I can dance fine. I was just thinking about something else, that’s all.”

“Pilots are supposed to be able to multi-task,” Racetrack snarked, “and no offense, but everyone on Galactica knows you can’t dance. Hell, the whole Fleet probably knows.”

He glared at her and Starbuck equally. He glared at Racetrack’s partner, too, but since the guy was snickering, that seemed fair. “This is the only time you’ve ever seen me dance, Edmondson. You’re just assuming based on one bad example when I was distracted.”

“Uh huh. Listen, even back when everybody thought you were dead, the stories about you attempting to dance on shore leaves were legendary.”

Fine. He was never helping her with her post-flight checklist ever again. He watched resentfully as she and the guy (what was his damn name?) jitterbugged away expertly.

“Show-offs,” he muttered at Starbuck, who was trying and failing to look innocent. He knew damn well where the stories had come from.

“Don’t look at me, I didn’t tell her a thing,” she said flirtatiously.

“Yeah, right. And quit doing that.”

“What?” She asked, running her fingers along his sash.

“I’m sure there are lots of guys here who’d love to flirt with you, you know. And if you really want to make him jealous, why not pick someone who’s single? You and me doesn’t look very plausible, since he knows damn well Sharon’s seven months pregnant.”

“I really don’t know what the frak you’re talking about, Karl,” she said, sounding deeply pissed-off. He wondered if he was going to get punched out tonight.

“Whatever. Look around, see all the guys with no girlfriends dying for a dance with the great Thrace?”

She cast a jaundiced eye at the side of the room, where the non-dancers were clustered around in small groups. Except for Dr. Baltar, who was currently muttering to himself in a corner. Again. Must be a genius thing.

She didn’t look too enthusiastic about any of them, so he talked them up, feeling uncomfortably like a teenaged girl, but desperate enough to try anything. “Okay, so Hotdog’s a little young for you, but you like Viper pilots.”

She looked totally appalled, and said, “He’s one of my nuggets.”

Helo remembered the whole mess with Zak Adama, and tried to move on before she got really upset. “Well, Duck’s kind of a prick, but it’s not like you’re picking some guy based on personality, anyway.”

That was clearly not the right way to convince her to flirt with Duck. Getting a little desperate, he continued to scan the crowd. He didn’t even bother to suggest Tigh, since he wasn’t a total moron. “Gaeta!” he exclaimed, catching a glimpse of him. “You like Gaeta, and he’s not a prick, and he’s not too young for you.”

Starbuck stared at him, and then burst out laughing. He wasn’t sure what was so funny until he looked more closely. The reason he’d only caught a glimpse before was because apparently Gaeta had indulged in a few glasses of moonshine, and was currently necking in a corner with the guy who was known around the mess hall as That-civilian-off-the-Geminon-Traveller-he-pretends-he’s-not-frakking.

Helo thought the guy’s name was Joe, but he couldn’t be sure, since Gaeta was keeping him pretty quiet. Or had been, until tonight. On the bright side, tomorrow’s gossip in the mess hall would probably not only be discussing how Starbuck had publicly groped Helo. He should probably thank Gaeta for that.

“I don’t think I’m his type,” Starbuck said. She looked over at the couple in the corner again, and licked her lips, “Although I wouldn’t mind watching them. You think they’d freak out if I asked?”

“Yes!” Helo said, “and I’m freaking out just hearing you talk like this. Knock it off. And do we have to watch?” He was not whining. He wasn’t.

“You are such a prude,” she said, without taking her eyes off the couple exploring each other’s tonsils. She was breathing a little faster, and Helo really wanted to be somewhere else.

“I’m not a prude, I just don’t feel like watching them. And don’t you think it’s kind of weird that you want to?”

“Helo,” Starbuck asked in a suspiciously mild tone, “Have you ever thought about watching Sharon and me together?”

He gaped at her, “Well, I have now.”

“Uh huh,” Starbuck said skeptically, “And now’s the first time it’s ever crossed your mind? Well, you just keep right on thinking about that, especially since it’ll never ever happen, and don’t hassle me for doing the same damn thing.”

He realized she wasn’t paying much attention to him now she had the floor show to watch, and wondered if he could sneak away without her noticing. Unfortunately, about five seconds after he had that thought, Ellen Tigh let out a whoop and cried, “Whoo hoo!”

Gaeta and the civilian guy realized they had an audience and broke apart. Gaeta smoothed his rumpled tunic and crooked sash, looking embarrassed as hell. Damnit, and he’d been so close.

Sighing with disappointment, Starbuck turned back to Helo and asked, “Why aren’t we dancing anymore? I frakking love this song.” They started to dance again, and she cried out when he stepped on her toes. Then she said, “Oh, for frak’s sake, just stand in one place and sway before I end up in sickbay.”

She pulled him close, and they were back to square one. In fact, watching that little interlude seemed to have gotten her even more into public displays of affection. Her right hand was technically still on his waist, but it was slowly migrating south. And oh look, they were at the edge of the dance floor, again, and within Apollo’s line of sight, again. What a coincidence.

Hoping to salvage the situation, Helo looked around, searching for a distraction, or at least another victim. “What about Tyrol?” he asked, congratulating himself on a stroke of genius, “He’s a really nice guy, and you should dance with him tonight anyway. Thank him for all the hard work he’s put into the still.”

Starbuck didn’t look totally thrilled, but she wasn’t actually rejecting the idea. He desperately tried to catch the Chief’s eye, but he was busy having an intense conversation with the Pegasus deck chief, involving lots of hand movements. Helo comforted himself that he might be getting publicly humiliated, but at least he wasn’t spending the whole party standing in a corner talking about engines.

The Chief was a good guy, and would probably have rescued Helo if he’d noticed him, but short of screaming “Help me!” across the room, Helo wasn’t sure how to alert him to the problem. And it wasn’t like this was an actual emergency.

Just as Helo was wondering if he could steer Starbuck Chief-wards, interrupt whatever he and Laird were talking about, hand her over, and then make a run for it, Baltar seemed to finish his conversation with himself, and headed to the drinks table, looking totally normal.

“Hey, Baltar’s not a bad-looking guy, and he’d be a hell of a catch. You’d totally make Apollo jealous if you bagged the vice-president,” Helo suggested helpfully.

He wasn’t expecting the fist which connected with his jaw about two seconds later. He reeled into a nearby couple, and narrowly avoided falling on his ass.

“What did you do that for?” he asked, stunned.

Starbuck was looking really mad, “That was low, you bastard,” she hissed at him.

“What? What the hell did I say? I didn’t do anything. You’re frakking insane.”

He guessed he must’ve convinced her, because she said apologetically, “Oh shit. Sorry, I should’ve known you wouldn’t –“

“Wouldn’t what?” he asked grumpily, exploring the sore patch on his jaw with a careful finger. It hurt like hell, it was going to leave a bruise, and he still didn’t have a clue why she’d hit him. But she was looking uncomfortable, and glanced at Baltar, and suddenly it all made sense.

He wouldn’t have thought Baltar was her type, but he’d pulled her hung-over ass out of bars and back alleys and strangers’ apartments quite a few times over the two years they’d served together, and Starbuck on a bender wasn’t always too picky.

“Oh, I get it,” he told her awkwardly. “Sorry, I didn’t know. Really. I wouldn’t have said anything if –“ he trailed off and decided it would be smarter to shut up.

Baltar, huh. He was a certified genius, he’d done great things for the Fleet, and Helo knew the decision on Caprica had been the right call. Plus, Baltar was the only person on board apart from Doc Cottle who didn’t treat Sharon like crap, and Helo wasn’t even sure exactly why. But all that didn’t change the fact that his ego was so big it was amazing he could fit through the doors. Not really a shock that it had ended badly, especially given that Starbuck wasn’t exactly ego-free herself.

It must’ve been awkward for her, having to see Baltar around. Hell, the first time they’d frakked, she’d tried to freeze him out after, and they hadn’t even been drunk, just horny from post-war games adrenaline. Yeah, he’d bet the morning after with Baltar hadn’t been pretty. He guessed that was one of the lousy things about the end of the worlds: not being able to leave the one-night stands behind after shore leave was up. You were stuck putting up with your exes unless they got killed.

Apollo showed up at Helo’s elbow, looking totally pissed off. “What the hell did you do, Agathon?” he asked accusingly. He was close enough that Helo could tell he’d been at the Chief’s still in a big way.

Me? With all due respect, sir, I’m the one who just got socked in the jaw here.”

“Well, you obviously did something to upset Kara. She wouldn’t –“

Now it was Apollo’s turn to trail off mid-sentence. Even though he was clearly delusional, not to mention really drunk, apparently he still remembered that Starbuck was so the type to hit someone for no good reason. That was good: it showed he hadn’t gone totally insane.

“Anyway,” Apollo continued, “you shouldn’t have been all over her like that.”

“What?” he asked incredulously. “Are you frakking kidding me? Or just blind?”

“Try to remember you’re addressing a superior officer, Lieutenant,” Apollo said. Helo wondered what the hell Starbuck saw in the arrogant prick. He also wondered why he’d only had two drinks, just because he was pulling an early shift tomorrow. Screw the regs about being hung-over on duty. If he had to deal with this shit, he didn’t want to be sober for it.

“Oh gods, you moron,” Starbuck cut in, “You can’t pull rank in the middle of a frakking party, Lee. Pull the stick out of your ass or get lost.”

Apollo was looking uncomfortable; maybe he’d finally realized he was acting like an idiot. And he didn’t remind her that you weren’t supposed to call a superior officer a moron.

But instead of just leaving, he stepped really close to Helo and glared in a way that showed he was definitely the Old Man’s kid. He said, “Just watch your step. And don’t give Kara any more trouble.”

It was a little scary, and would’ve even been more so if the top of his head hadn’t been level with Helo’s mouth. Occasionally there were advantages to being tall, especially when the guy trying to intimidate you was on the short side.

“Back off, Lee,” Starbuck snapped. “It was just a frakking misunderstanding. And I can take care of myself.” Now they were glaring at each other like Helo was invisible, which was kind of funny considering they were both mad at him.

“Fine. Excuse me for being concerned.”

“Oh, that’s sweet. I didn’t know you cared.”

“Don’t take it personally. I’m just doing my job.”

“Babysitting me isn’t in your job description, Captain. And even if it was, I sure as hell don’t need you.”

They didn’t seem to notice the crowd forming around them. But on the bright side, they were also ignoring Helo. Maybe he could sneak out and leave them to it. Yeah, it was possible Starbuck would flip out and hit Apollo if he wasn’t there to calm her down, but Apollo wasn’t the type to throw her in the brig for it. And while technically Helo’s job as a friend was to keep her from doing stupid shit like giving the CAG a black eye, he was about done with Starbuck for tonight.

He tried to walk away inconspicuously, but Viper pilots have to have very good peripheral vision. “Where the frak are you going, Helo?” Starbuck asked, her eyes never moving away from her staring contest with Apollo.

He said the first thing that came into his head, “Uh, I figured I’d score some canapés for Sharon.” He didn’t add “And get the hell away from you two because you’re even scarier than my in-laws,” but he thought it. Hard.

“That’s really nice. It’s impressive how you’re managing to juggle the two of them,” Apollo snarked, “Put the moves on another girl, then make a delivery to satisfy your Cylon’s pregnancy cravings. I don’t think canapés will do the trick, though. Why don’t you try bringing her a nice motor oil snack? Don’t want the kid’s gears rusting up, right.” Then his eyes widened as though his brain had just caught up with his mouth and realized what it had said, but Helo was too mad to care.

Starbuck shouted “Frak it, Lee!” at the same time Helo grabbed him and said quietly, “That’s enough. Just shut up already, you bastard.”

Suddenly Tyrol was there, pulling him back. And Starbuck finally seemed to have sobered up a little. She had a death grip on Apollo’s arm, and yanked him away so hard he stumbled as he followed her. Half the crowd drifted away with them, listening to her ream him out. The other half waited, maybe hoping something exciting would happen with him and the Chief.

“Helo, just calm down,” Tyrol said. Helo took a deep breath and let it out again, trying to follow his advice. “Gods,” the Chief continued, “where the hell did that come from? I thought you two were getting along better now.”

It was true, most of the time, things between Helo and Apollo were a lot better than they had been a few months ago. But it looked like tonight wasn’t most of the time. Helo wondered if he could go back in time to their stand-off on the Astral Queen and maybe this time shoot Apollo in the head.

He looked over to the corner Starbuck had hauled Apollo off to. She was doing all the talking, and he was looking at the floor. Good. Helo hoped like hell it was because he regretted what he’d said, but maybe it was just because he was getting a public beatdown. He wondered when he’d gotten this cynical. It had come on slowly, but sometimes he looked back at the guy he’d been only a few months ago, and cringed at how naïve the stupid bastard was.

“Yeah, well, I get along better with people when they don’t act like total assholes,” he muttered. “Did you hear what that son of a bitch said?” Tyrol nodded and handed him a glass without saying anything.

He had some, but it didn’t really help. It didn’t even help when he saw Starbuck grab Apollo by the collar and haul him out of the room like she was getting ready to throw him out the nearest airlock. He guessed he should think it was funny that after all the trouble Starbuck had been going to earlier to get Apollo’s attention, now she had it and was too busy kicking his ass to take advantage. Maybe in the morning it really would be funny, and he could laugh at her about it.

He was suddenly tired and frakking depressed. It wasn’t like Apollo’s crack was the first one he’d ever heard, and it wouldn’t be the last. Things were a lot easier than they had been when he’d first gotten back to Galactica, and started to wonder why he’d been busting his ass for months to get there.

But even now, there were still people who were just dying to share their opinions about him and Sharon and the baby. Most of them weren’t the people he worked with every day, though. They’d already made their peace with it a while back, or maybe they still thought shit like that but were too afraid of Starbuck’s fists to say it out loud. She’d been pretty damn aggressive in defending him.

It was one of the reasons he let her pull stupid shit like using him to make Apollo jealous. Yeah, she drove him nuts, but she’d sat with him in Sickbay when Sharon had been bleeding, and told him he was an idiot, a gunshot wound from weeks before couldn’t have anything to do with it. She’d even tried to look happy for him when Cottle had come by to tell them Sharon wasn’t going to have a miscarriage after all. She hadn’t been very convincing, but she had tried.

And after the whole nightmare with the Pegasus, she’d talked Adama into changing Sharon’s Marine guards into an all-female detail for a while. It never would’ve occurred to Helo to ask, but she’d figured out it would help.

He knew nobody else really got it, not even Starbuck, and he’d quit trying to explain, but it still drove him nuts. If they wanted to call him a toasterfrakker, well, he was a grown-up. He didn’t like it, but he could handle it. It was true, after all. He hadn’t known the truth at first, but after finding out, he’d made his own choices. And so had Sharon.

It was the shit some of them said about the baby that made him lose it. It wouldn’t be too much longer until she was born. He wondered how old she’d be when she started to understand what words like half-breed and freak meant. Eighteen months, maybe? Two if they were lucky. It wasn’t enough time to change everyone’s minds.

The only person he could hear the toaster jokes from without flinching was Starbuck. Maybe because when she teased him about how he’d be diapering a small appliance soon, she acted like she thought it would be semi-cute instead of disgusting. Yeah, she made fun of him, but then, she always had.

At least when she joked, she didn’t seem to think it was an actively bad thing that he was going to be a dad soon. And sometimes she actually asked how Sharon was doing. Of course, half the time she ruined it afterwards by explaining how she didn’t actually give a frak, but she thought she should ask just to be polite. But at least she asked.

Tyrol asked because, well, there was history there. More history than Helo cared to think about closely. Cottle asked because it was his job. And Baltar probably asked because his super-smart brain had decided he should be nice to a valuable source of intel on the Cylons. Or maybe he was just the sentimental type, and liked babies. Sometimes he seemed as excited about the baby as they were. Sharon had once said she hoped Baltar wasn’t just flipping out over a great research opportunity, getting to study the baby up close. Sharon was more cynical than he was, although he was getting a lot less trusting as time went on.

“Apollo’s just drunk,” Tyrol said, “Don’t pay any attention to him. He didn’t really mean it. He’s not a bad guy, really.

“Well, he does act like I should be able to get his planes flying again like magic after his godsdamn crazy jockeys bang them up, but that’s just a pilot thing. They never appreciate the mechanics. When things go right, they think it’s all just the way it should be, and when things go wrong, they flip out and blame the knuckledraggers. Ungrateful bastards.”

Laird groaned, and started telling some story about a ridiculous demand the new Pegasus CAG had made about a downed Viper. Helo wondered if he should remind them that he was a godsdamn pilot before they got too insulting to the breed, but they were being nice to him, and he didn’t want to get pissy on them.

One of the weirdest things about the kind of sort of friendship he and Tyrol had developed over the past few months was the insight he now had into what the deck crew actually thought about the officers. Okay, actually, that was probably one of the less weird things, under the circumstances. But it felt the weirdest.

“Listen, I should get going,” he told Tyrol and Laird. “I’ve got an early shift tomorrow, and I need some rack time.” Tyrol was still looking kind of worried, so he dredged up a smile. “Got to get my sleep so I can be up to hassling the deck crew tomorrow like a good pilot.”

Tyrol laughed, but said doubtfully, “You’re not going to do something dumb like go find Apollo and fight with him, are you?”

“Nah. I’ll just check on Sharon, then hit my rack.”

“Yeah. Say hi for me. And don’t forget to let her know you’re still the worst dancer on the entire ship.”

“I’m not,” he protested, and was still grumbling to himself as he snagged a bunch of snacks from the food table (which was next to the moonshine table, but not nearly so popular, for some reason). He left the makeshift ballroom, and when the door closed behind him, the music abruptly stopped.

Helo was concentrating on not letting any tiny sandwiches fall out of his hands as he rounded the corner, which is why he didn't notice the couple entwined in front of him until he was close enough to touch them. He blinked and stepped back a little, not really wanting to end up in an accidental ménage-a-trois. He might as well have been invisible. It looked like Viper pilots couldn't use their excellent peripheral vision when they were blinded by lust.

How had Kara and Lee managed to go from fighting to the verge of frakking in five minutes? And had they really thought it was a good idea to get into a clinch in the middle of a public hallway? He'd spent the past five-and-a-half months getting hassled for his lousy romantic choices, but he'd never been that dumb. Helo raised his eyebrows as Apollo let out a squawk that couldn't be described as CAG-like. Starbuck's hands were busy inside his pants, and neither one of them seemed to be getting any smart ideas about moving their encounter to someplace a little less high-traffic.

Helo tried not to laugh, and wondered how to suggest that they find a more private place to frak without embarrassing them. Given how far gone they were, he didn't think it was going to happen, no matter what he said. And while he would've loved to make Apollo squirm, Starbuck was a friend, and a friend who'd probably be in a much better mood once she got this out of her system. If Helo interrupted them, Apollo would probably suddenly realize that he was half naked in a public place with one of his pilots, and rush off somewhere by himself. And then Starbuck would kill him.

Now, a lot of people coming to live on a battlestar for the first time think they need total privacy in order to have a sex life. Pretty quickly they either get over it, or resign themselves to celibacy. In fact, Helo’s sex life, both on Caprica and in the occasional “sleepovers” he was allowed in the brig, probably involved a lot more privacy than was normal on Galactica. Yeah, okay, there were Marines outside the cell, but they stayed outside, and if you waited until the lights went off, you didn’t even have to worry about voyeurs.

It wasn’t like nobody had ever had sex in this particular corridor, and the hell with the consequences. But generally speaking, if the CAG was going to sneak around with one of his subordinates, he might want to consider actually being sneaky about it. Like, say, sneaking into a storage closet, the kind with a lockable door.

Starbuck often said, as part of her ongoing mission to bludgeon him and Apollo into becoming best buddies, that the guy wasn’t nearly as uptight as he sometimes acted. She’d known him a long time, and she claimed he was capable of cutting loose. Helo had never actually seen it before tonight, and hadn’t really believed her. But he should have taken Starbuck at her word. Lee Adama was definitely capable of living dangerously.

Helo realized that all he had to do was walk away. Nobody would ever know he’d witnessed this scene, and soon enough somebody else would come down the corridor and spot them, and it would be all over the ship within hours. Starbuck wouldn’t be all that embarrassed: frakking in public had never bothered her, and half the crew thought she was already getting some from Apollo anyway. Captain Adama, on the other hand, would probably have a heart attack from total humiliation, and he'd get in trouble with the XO and the Old Man for breaking regs with a junior officer.

The biggest problem was that, in all honesty, while Apollo was definitely not one of Helo’s favourite people, he wasn’t exactly evil either. If that whole Pegasus mess had taught Helo anything, it was the distinction between not friendly and actively dangerous.

Yeah, Apollo would probably be pretty relieved if Sharon was “accidentally” flushed out an airlock, but he hadn’t actually tried to kill her in at least five months. He guessed that had to count for something. And Lee had busted his ass helping get Helo and Tyrol out of the Pegasus brig, which showed that even though Helo would probably never be one of his favourite pilots, he still didn’t want him dead.

Helo was feeling resentful of his grandma, even though he shouldn’t because she was dead. But still, the annoying voice in his head sternly telling him, “You know what the right thing to do is, Karl Agathon,” was definitely hers.

He eased the door shut very quietly, spun the wheel to lock it, then ducked back into the party to grab some of the coloured paper and tape which formed part of the decorations. The piece of pastel paper was big enough that even when he tore it in half, the pieces were still pretty big.

Digging out his pen, he wrote in big block capitals, “Closed for repairs. Use alternate route.” He looked at his homemade sign for a moment, then decided to add a “please.” Using half the tape, he stuck it on the door. It looked official enough if you ignored the fact that it was bright pink (and with the shortages these days, that wouldn’t be enough to make people suspicious).

He was just in time. A drunk and noisy couple came out of the party and headed towards the door. Finding it locked, and reading the sign, they lurched away, bitching about how something was always breaking on this frakking ship.

Now all Helo had to do was reach the door at the other end of the hallway where Starbuck and Apollo were having their tryst (and thank the gods those doors were soundproof, given how much noise they’d been making). He grabbed the other piece of paper and the bit of sticky tape, then had a few awkward moments trying to carry them and his haul of canapés.

The lovebirds would probably freak when the afterglow faded and they tried to sneak out, though. They’d know from the signs that somebody had seen them, and Starbuck would probably recognize his writing. Helo grinned as he realized Apollo would have to be grateful to him for keeping his mouth shut and performing an act of mercy by keeping everybody else out.

Helo knew pretty damn well that it sucked having to be grateful to people you didn’t really like, and Apollo was so going to owe him. Maybe Grandma had been right after all: sometimes good deeds could be their own reward.

He successfully made it to the other door before anybody else, and after hanging the second sign, he headed to the brig. Thank the gods he could tell one person about this, and she’d think it was great. He thought about leaving out the parts where he’d stepped on people’s feet, but she’d probably guess if he did. Even Sharon acted like he couldn’t dance, when it was totally untrue. And none of the times he’d screwed up dancing tonight had been his fault.

Happy in his delusion, Helo whistled as he went about his business.
Sel: BSG - LK so closeseldearslj on December 19th, 2005 09:13 am (UTC)
*falls over laughing*

I like the premise, and wouldn't mind seeing where you're going with this!
A work in progress: Not!Serious Starbuck BSGancarett on December 19th, 2005 12:56 pm (UTC)
Helo is such a hero. Pity that he can't dance! *snort* Great story!
weissmanweissman on December 19th, 2005 02:22 pm (UTC)
Hi Raincitygirl- That was fantastic, the details you built into it are amazing and provided a great visual of what was happening.I think you got Helo's voice down pretty good. I would have loved to see the conversation between Sharon and Helo, because they are my favorate, that's a big surprise LOL.
kathgrrkathgrr on December 19th, 2005 10:12 pm (UTC)
I LOVE THIS! All the relationships are portrayed really well here. The Starbuck-Helo dynamic is absolutely hysterical and it is nice to see a backstory that shows the depth of their friendship. I especially liked the complicated and conflicting relationship between Helo-Apollo. I had a good laugh about the fact that Lee sees Helo as being all over Kara, the depth of the man's denial is astronomical. The little bit about Greta and his boytoy had me in stitches. And how can I not love it when K/L get together at the end!!?! This was really enjoyable. Thanks for writing such a great piece!
MargeauxMaymargeauxmay on December 22nd, 2005 02:57 pm (UTC)
This was such fun to read--I really was enjoying Helo's take on everything, but then I laughed out loud when I hit this:
The stories rarely ended well for the tiger, but never ended well for the goat.
Thanks for posting it.
Call Me OneTrack: kara and helo at jeepcallmeonetrack on April 13th, 2009 05:59 am (UTC)
This is such a fun story. I love Helo's voice here and how he reflects on his relationship with Kara (and Sharon, and Chief, and Apollo). Helo's such a good friend.