author: pen
timeframe: pre-mini.
a/n: written for chicachicahoney for the bsg ficathon. she requested pre-mini Boomer/Helo. Rookie Boomer getting picked on, a drunken card game, jealous Tyrol getting into a fight with helo. this is sort of that.
with thanks, as always, to claira.

[ b e l i e v e   i n   w h a t   y o u   s e e ]

*

Sharon's never been to Picon before. She's doing her best to hide her awe, so she looks at the buildings and the skyline from under her eyelashes. She trails the other pilots, who don't even seem to notice their surroundings as they discuss fond memories of girls and boys they've shagged on previous liberties to Picon. She does her best to listen as she follows, but keeps looking at the trees in the distance.

"Every planet looks the same," Starbuck says as she passes Sharon. "But the first one's always the best." She laughs and strides off.

Not so subtle, Sharon thinks ruefully.

As if waiting for Starbuck's cue, Flattop flings an arm over Sharon's shoulder. "Did you need a superior officer to show you a good time, Boomer?" he asks. She shrugs his arm off.

"No," she says, and Flattop grins.

"Are you sure?" he asks.

"Yeah," says Sharon, and she hangs back until the pilots all disappear into a bar before she turns and walks away.

*

Jester hustles her into the room.

"Found a stray nugget!" she yells, and everyone cheers.

"Boomer!"

Jester wanders over to the bed and flops down onto it. "And it was hard work, let me tell you. These nuggets, they just don't want to be found." Flattop claps her on the back.

"I know what you mean. When I was on the Triton there was this nugget named Crashdown..."

Boomer lets the words blur and hangs back by the door. It's warm, and it's loud, and the scent of ambrosia and cigar smoke swirl together as Starbuck wins again. Boomer wants nothing but to push away the laughter and dive outside, but just as she's seriously thinking about it, Helo leans back in his chair and grins. He turns to face her, and he grins. His whole face is just one giant grin, and he pulls the lollipop out of his mouth.

"Sharon," he says, "you ever played Triad using Liberty Rules?" She shakes her head no, and he waves a hand towards her. "Come try," he says, and she smiles but doesn't move.

His grin dims a little as he rises from his chair.

"Hey Helo, you stand, you forfeit!" Starbuck laughs behind him as he pulls a finger at her, but he keeps walking towards Boomer.

"You good?" he asks quietly. The words are just for her ears, and their banality makes her smile.

"I just," she starts, but fades in her nervousness. His grin returns.

"Have this," he says softly, producing a lollipop from a pocket which he pushes into her hand, "and play a game with me." He's not quite soft enough, and there are hoots from the bed.

"Ooh, Helo!" Flattop yells in a breathless falsetto.

"Play a game, little lady?" Jester deepens her voice.

Boomer's smile drops. "Thanks guys, but no," she says, and pastes a fake smile on her face. She doesn't look at Helo, because he knows it, and she knows it, but damn if she's going to let the rest of them know it. "I've got a hot date, you know how it is. Two days planet side, a pilot has to work fast."

"You got turned down, Helo!" yells Starbuck as Boomer spins around, and she hears the whistles behind her as she steps out of the room. The door closing brings a blessed silence, but she doesn't pause to catch her breath.

She runs.

*

She catches a shuttle back up to the Galactica. It's empty save for Chief Petty Officer Tyrol and Specialist Cally. She waves at the crewmen, but leans against the wall and shuts her eyes.

"Lieutenant," Tyrol whispers. She opens her eyes.

"The specialist wants to know if you're okay."

She looks closer. Cally's eyes are shut, and looks passed out.

Sharon meets Tyrol's eyes.

She grins. "Would you like some help?"

*

Helo slides into the chair beside her. "We missed you," he says as he dips his fork into his meal and starts gooping it around. Sharon frowns.

"That's really disgusting," she says. "I don't know how you can keep eating that after two days planetside."

"I'm tough," he replies without looking, "and so are you. Where did you go?" It's not quite a non-sequitor and she was expecting it, so she pushes her own plate away.

"I think I'm done here," she says, and moves to stand. Helo drops his fork and grabs her wrist. He turns to face her, and waits until she meets his eyes.

"You're braver than that, Sharon," he says, and she turns away.

*

Tyrol's flirting with her, and it's kind of nice. He's not like the pilots. He's charming and self-assured, but he's not arrogant like she's used to. He makes her laugh, and that's nice too.

She's laughing over a story about Cally and Prosna and some strawberry jam when she notices movement out of the corner of her eye. But she's in the hangar deck and that's not unusual, so she ignores it until the movement forms itself into Helo and Starbuck. She follows them with her eyes over Tyrol's shoulder, and as they lift themselves up the ladder Starbuck says something and they both turn to look at Sharon.

Sharon doesn't meet their eyes.

Long after they're gone, she's still looking at the ladder.

*

"So, you and Tyrol?" A voice filters through the water, and it takes a moment for Sharon to place it.

"So, you and Helo?" she bites back, and she's proud that any shaking in her voice can be attributed to the water.

"Only when we're drunk," says Starbuck, and her voice is clearer, so Sharon turns. Starbuck's standing about a metre away, naked and drying her hair like she doesn't care who sees her body. "But that's nothing. Not like you and Tyrol." Starbuck's voice is taunting.

"There's nothing going on between Galen and I," says Sharon, and Starbuck laughs.

"It's Galen now?" Starbuck grins.

"Sometimes."

"When you're frakking?"

Sharon turns away to face the shower head.

"At least it's his name. What do you do, pant 'Helo' when you orgasm?" It aches as she speaks, but she keeps on speaking.

"Why don't you try him and see what you say?" Starbuck laughs again, and Sharon's hands ball into fists as she pushes them against the wall.

When she turns back around, Starbuck's gone. Sharon thinks that might be a good thing.

*

On one side of the mess hall, Helo's pushing his food around the plate. He looks like he might be sick. On the other side, Galen carefully eats the food, and looks up when Cally pushes his shoulder.

As she stands holding a tray, Sharon thinks ruefully that there might be too many mealtimes.

*

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