summary: crashdown, post colonial day. hint of kara/lee
a/n: with thanks to pen, sloane and lyss.
Crashdown is on his third lap of the Galactica, and he? finally getting tired when he sees a flash of blue down a hallway as he runs past. He slows to a walk, backtracks, and she's sitting crumpled on a bench, knees up, arms wrapped around her legs, head down. He stands there awkwardly for a moment.
?ou okay? he says finally, and her head snaps up.
?? fine. I - my feet hurt, she says too quickly, letting go of her knees and slipping one foot out from under her dress. Sure enough, there is a neat line of blisters, bright red against her skin. ? didn? have any flat shoes, and I couldn? wear the shoes I normally wear because of my knee, so I had to borrow Boomer?...
Her dress isn? tied properly and her hair is a mess, and he puts together the memory of her leaving the party and Baltar following a few minutes later, and wonders why he didn? add those two things straight away. She? still talking, babbling, running one hand through her hair and he feels completely disorientated. This is Starbuck - brilliant, fearless Starbuck and right now, she looks sad and lost and vulnerable, and he has no idea what to do.
?id you have a good Colonial Day? she asks, almost desperately.
"I - " he begins, and notices that her fingers are twisting in and out of the pile of filmy material in her lap. Long, pale strips of blue that had been attached to her wrists, catching in the air as she? moved through the party.
They were what had reminded him, made him unable to sleep; his sister had been wearing a dress made of similar material last Colonial Day, when his family had actually been together for once him back from flight school, his sister on a surprise visit from Geminon. His mother had laughed and cried and hugged them both, and they? gone to the park to hear the band. It had been crowded; his father had fought off two other families for a spot on the lawn, and he remembered the music, the dark chocolate cake, and the murmur of conversation all around him - even the sting of an ant bite, right behind his knee, and the way his sister had laughed as he? sworn and jumped up, slapping at his leg.
?ad memories? Starbuck says softly, and he starts.
?o, he tells her, sitting down next to her on the bench. ?ood ones.
She looks almost as if she understands. ?s that what you were doing?
?unning, she says, and he looks down at his sweat pants.
?eah. It helps, sometimes.
She shifts next to him, her hands smoothing the material over her legs. ?ow big was your family?
?here were four of us. I had one sister.
"No, older. She was studying to be nurse."
Starbuck touches his arm gently. ?? sorry.
He shrugs. ?t's okay. What about you?
Her fingers going back to playing with the material. ?veryone I care about is on the Galactica, she says, and her voice picks up an edge of bitterness. ?ome people call me lucky.
He thinks about that for a moment, thinks about how hard it is, missing his mother's smile, and the way she'd sung around the house constantly - old songs, ones he'd teased her for knowing the words to, songs he finds himself humming at odd times now. Missing the times he spent throwing a ball around with his father in the late afternoon, when the breeze was cool and the shadows long on the lawn. Even missing the way his sister had teased him about his shirt choices and his hair. He wouldn't have it any other way.
The silence stretches on, and then Starbuck shrugs.
"I should get back," she says, and he remembers dancing with her just the once, and she? been more than a little drunk and he? been nervous and stepped on her foot. She? laughed away his apology, telling him not to worry about it because nothing was worse than dancing with the Chief. He? noticed the CAG watching them over her shoulder. Starbuck had never once looked over at him.
Suddenly, that seems very important.
?veryone? asleep, he says, and then, casually: ?nd I think the CAG? boxing with the Commander.
He pretends not to notice the way she relaxes slightly next to him.
?hat time is it?
She exhales and fumbles with the knot in the material at her back. He reties it for her, smoothes the material out. He? careful not to touch her skin.
? had a sister, remember? he says, when she looks at him in surprise.
She smiles. ?hanks.
Her hand brushes his arm and then she picks up her shoes and walks away. Her dress floats as she moves and he sees his sister again, glowing in the sunlight.
The corridor closes in grey and cold around him, and he runs hard in the opposite direction.