summary: five ways to 'ship kara thrace
a/n: with thanks, as usual, to pen and sloane
titles from peggie lee's 'is that all there is'
His head hurt. A lot.
“Oh shit,” he heard Starbuck say beside him, and he opened his eyes. She was lying next to him, head pillowed on one hand, and looking at him with a puzzled expression, as if she couldn’t work out whether she was still asleep or not.
“Good morning?” he said, because it was the first thing he could think of, and she stared at him blankly for a moment before dissolving into laughter.
“Good morning?” she said. “Helo, that’s the worst I’ve ever heard.”
“Shut up,” he told her, but he grinned and she grinned back. And then she winced.
“Worst hangover ever,” she said, nodding slowly. “Yeah. Worst.”
“How much did we drink?”
“Oh gods." She flopped pathetically into her pillows. “Too much.”
He reached over her and set the bedside clock upright. It blinked at him.
“We have to be out of here in an hour, and back on the Galactica by one.”
“What time is it now?”
She made an unintelligible sound of disgust, and pulled a pillow over her head. “Stop talking. My head hurts.”
“Come on, Starbuck.” He poked her lightly. Her hand flailed for him and missed, and he nudged her again. “Where’s that iron stomach?”
“It woke up next to you, Helo. It’s not feeling too good.”
He snatched the pillow off her face and she swung at him half-heartedly, and then turned her back to him and snuggled into his pillow.
“Go and make breakfast,” she said, her voice muffled.
“You may or may not remember, Starbuck, but this is a hotel room. There’s no food.”
“Clearly, Helo, you are in better form.”
“I have good form?” he asked, and she groaned, laughed.
“Forget I said anything. Now go, before I throw you out of here without your clothes.”
He laughed and got out of bed. He turned at the door, and she’d rolled back over and was watching him. He grinned.
“Are you checking me out?”
She propped herself up on her elbows and the sheet dropped a few inches. She smirked. “Yup.”
“Good,” he told her. “Coffee? I think I saw some in the cupboard.”
“Oh gods yes,” she said, and laughed.
He wondered if he’d live when she saw the stubble rash on her neck.
When he woke up the next morning, she was already pulling on her jeans. Sunlight was filtering in through the window, shadows shifting on the floor as the curtains moved in the breeze.
“Morning,” she said, grinning.
He sat up, pulling the sheets across himself.
“Starbuck – "
"It was for a bet, sir." She looked at him, all mockery and soft white skin, and started to laugh. "Gods, you didn't think anything else?"
The ambrosia bottle was lying on the floor, empty, next to her bra. He didn't know what he was thinking.
“How much was it worth?” he asked finally.
“A lot,” she told him, and her lip curled. “I thought that would have been obvious.”
He watched her look around the room for the rest of the clothes. He didn’t get out of bed.
"Why did you stay?”
"It was part of the bet,” she said, glancing over him with something like scorn. “It was – very specific.”
She picked up her jacket from the floor and started shrugging it on. "Someone said it would be a challenge." She tilted her head on one side and wrenched the zipper up. "You've always been so loyal to your wife, sir. Especially when she's screwing everything male in sight."
"And here I thought you were the slut of the Academy, Starbuck."
"It didn't stop you." She moved towards him, slowly, and leant over until her lips brushed his ear. "Did it, sir?"
"I - "
She kissed him, coaxed his mouth open, slid her fingers into his hair. Her tongue slipped into his mouth and he groaned, and his hands were just coming up to rest on her hips when she pulled abruptly away.
"Something to remember me by," she said, and licked her lips deliberately as he clenched his hands into the sheets. She picked up her bra from the floor, stuffed it into her bag, and left him there, sitting on the bed.
Tigh stayed there until he could only hear her footsteps in his imagination, and then he opened his cupboard and took out a new bottle of ambrosia, and drank until he couldn't smell her anymore.
He knew the feel of her on him, around him, her nails pricking at his skin would take at least two bottles to wipe out.
Two hours into interrogation, one hour into discussing humanity and she could smell his sweat from where she was sitting opposite him at the table. It was disconcerting.
“Where do you draw the line?” Leoben said. “We sweat, bleed, feel pain. We eat, we drink, we sleep – we do everything you do. Even sex.”
She rolled her eyes.
“Why does that surprise you?”
“Aren’t you too busy killing off humanity?”
“We have enough time,” he said, and his gaze turned speculative.
She shifted slightly in her seat.
“I know you,” he told her softly. “You like it slow and gentle, Kara. You convince yourself you want the opposite, want it hard and fast, so it hurts and you have bruises, so you can tell yourself it doesn’t mean anything – but what you really want is someone to spend hours memorizing your skin until you can’t think or feel anything else.”
She wet her lips. “You’re wrong.”
He started drawing lazy patterns on the tabletop and for a moment she saw those fingers on her skin, tracing lower, lower, twisting inside her. She swallowed, and her hands tightened around the clipboard in sync with her thighs pressing closer and closer together. Her knee started aching from the angle and she leaned back and crossed her arms across her chest.
“Kara,” he said, the word long and drawn out and she was glad the heat in the room already had her sweating and flushed. “Your most sensitive spot is on your throat, where your neck meets your shoulder.”
“That’s enough,” she told him, and her voice caught somewhere, and Leoben’s eyes raked down over her, lingering on her crossed arms. He smiled.
“And if someone touches you right there, it’s almost – "
“Enough,” she repeated, louder and more forceful this time. He stopped, and she tried to regulate her breathing, got to her feet. “Take five."
“And you say humanity makes you stronger, Kara?” he said as she left, and she heard him laugh.
Her legs shook as she walked to the head, and when she got there, she leaned back against the wall and let the cold metal steal the heat from her skin. It couldn’t take the warmth between her legs and she shuddered. “Frak,” she said into the silence.
“Not again!” Starbuck laughed as the material floating from her wrists caught on yet another man’s uniform. “Sorry,” she said to the pilot, tugging it free. ”These are the most annoying things.”
“Hold still,” Baltar told her. She looked puzzled, but dutifully stood still as he carefully looping the material around her wrists, one after the other, tucking the ends in neatly. “There. That should keep them.”
“Thanks,” she said, smiling at him, and he wondered what was strange before he realised that there was nothing mocking in it, no cruelty, no disdain.
“It’s a lovely dress,” he said. “If impractical.”
She laughed, sliding back into his arms. “Very impractical.”
“But you look beautiful,” he told her, a little clumsily. “I know you’ve probably heard that over and over tonight, but you do.”
“Thank you,” she said slowly, as if the words were strange, and rested her head on his shoulder. He could smell the shampoo she used, and his arms tightened ever so slightly around her.
When he had asked her to dance, he hadn’t thought she would say yes. He certainly hadn’t thought that she would still be in his arms an hour later, moving easily to the swing of the band. (The first time she laughed at one of his jokes, he didn’t quite know how to take it, because she’d never been anything but rude to him.)
The music changed once, twice, and he watched the crowd over her head, half expecting to see blonde curls and high cheekbones moving towards him at any point, but Six didn’t appear. Starbuck shifted slightly, brought her arms up and around his neck.
"What's happening?" she said, not moving her head from the crook of his neck. Baltar smiled into her hair, looked around them.
"The Commander is dancing with Ellen Tigh.”
"I know," he said, and she laughed. "And Captain Adama is dancing with a woman that is about three feet taller than he is - no, wait, he's moving away, he's leaving." Baltar laughed. "I think he told her he needed a bathroom break."
"Sounds like Lee," she said so softly he barely caught it, and then her fingers flexed on the back of his neck. "So, you - " and she paused. "You want to get some fresh air?"
“Lead the way.”
She smiled, slid her fingers into his hand and tugged him through the crowd, out the door and into the cold grey of the Galactica.
A corner and a hallway later, she pulled him against her and kissed him, and he could feel the warmth of her skin through the layers of chiffon and satin. When he ran his hand along the length of her back she shivered, gasped into his mouth.
Her hair was blonde, but she was real and smelt like ambrosia and perfume and faintly of cigars.
He didn't think of Six again.
The room was cold, but she couldn’t be bothered getting up off her rack to get her jacket. She was rubbing her arms briskly with her hands when the hatch opened and Lee swung into the room.
“Hey!” he said, and then looked at her closely. “Kara? What’s up?” He opened his locker and threw his water bottle in. “And don’t complain to me about the roster because you know how much work those things take.”
She smiled. “It’s fine, Lee.”
He shut the door, and came over and sat on the table in front of her. "Kara?”
He was silent for a moment. “It’s been six months, hasn’t it?”
She nodded. “One hundred and eighty-three days.”
“Of course you do.”
He didn't say anything, looked down at the floor, and she ran a hand through her hair. “Lee - I’m sorry, I just - even now, I still can’t get my head around it.” She shrugged. "I dreamt I was on Picon last night, for the summer festival and I woke up smelling the mud and the grass."
"It always rained, didn't it? I only went one year, but it poured."
"Every year." She stared down at her boots, tried not to remember the colours and the mud and the faces of the children, shining with water.
He nudged her with his foot. "It will rain on the new colony."
“You still think we’re going to win this?”
“We will." He sounded so confident that she wondered, briefly, if he was trying to convince her or himself.
"We will," she echoed, and then grinned. “After all, you have me.”
He rolled his eyes. “Let me guess - Starbuck saves the world!”
“I like it. It has a nice ring.”
Lee laughed, bumped her knee gently with his boot. “You’re a brat.”
“Hey, everyone has a skill.”
“They do,” he said softly, and for just a moment it was hard to breathe, with his eyes looking at her like that and his voice making her shiver.
Then he stood up and offered her his hand. “Dinner? I hear they are serving some really inedible stew.”
"Just what I wanted," she said dryly, and let him haul her to her feet. He was opening the hatch when she spoke again. "And Lee - thanks."
He didn't say anything, just smiled, and she followed him out of the room.
She wasn’t cold anymore.