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It is an interesting question how far men would retain their relative rank if they were divested of their clothes.
Henry David Thoreau


Divested
By Waldo.

The rattling and clanging right next to her head had been going on for over fifteen minutes. It was all accompanied by Apollo cursing and muttering under his breath. Kara hoped he found whatever the hell he’d lost in his locker soon before she got out of bed and shoved him into it and locked it behind her.

After yet another ‘frak’, Kara turned on her side, and took a deep breath in order to tell him to go the hell away – she rarely got to sleep in and he was ruining one of her few chances rather spectacularly - when she heard Crashdown clear his throat and say, “Excuse me, sir.”

Kara rolled her eyes, giving up the ghost. She hiked her blankets up around her ears, her back to the room.

“Crashdown?” Apollo answered still rummaging through his things

“Sir, no disrespect intended, but… again, sir? Boomer and I have to take those trainees out again? This is the fourth day in a row. Can’t they… I don’t know read the manual today or something? Go out with someone else?”

Apollo pushed the hanging clothes from one side to the other. He finally had a few things other than his flightsuit and his dress grays thanks to the quartermaster. One of the few good things about turning the ship into a museum right before the end of the worlds was that there were lots of t-shirts and sweatshirts stocked up in the gift shop. All of those things had been turned over to the quartermaster’s office and the very nice young petty officer had been happy to give Apollo one of the green fleece sweatshirts with the Galactica patch already sewn on the front. She’d even volunteered to stitch in “CAG” for him. The sweatshirt in question slipped off it’s hanger and fell on Apollo’s head as he rooted through his locker.

From his kneeling position, it was easier to take it out and toss it on the nearest flat surface and worry about putting it back when he stood up again.

The nearest flat surface happened to be Starbuck’s bed. The sweatshirt fell over her arm and the sleeve draped over her head. Groaning, she grabbed the offending garment and shoved it into the corner of her rack and pulled the curtain closed with much more force than necessary.

“We have to get more pilots in the air. Raptors are much better equipped for teaching basic flight. I need you two to do this,” Lee told him patiently. “You can’t exactly work hand-over-hand with a trainee in a Viper.”

“Yes sir, but come on, sir! Four days. Why can’t Nightmare and Muse take them?”

Lee sighed and Kara could hear what had to be his head hitting the locker door. “Nightmare? Are you serious? The way I hear it, the last rook he worked with came home in tears and ready to quit - and he’d been through flight school on Caprica! I know it’s not your favorite duty, but you and Boomer are good with them. I need you to do it. They’re comfortable with you. They like you enough to want to impress you by doing well and they aren’t so damn scared they won’t touch anything for fear of making a mistake. I know you hate it,” he reiterated, “But you’ve managed to become good at it. Besides, it’s only for two hours today. The Commander wants everyone not in the CAP for a briefing at eleven-hundred.”

Kara sighed. So much for sleeping in all day.

“AH!” Lee finally exclaimed. “Found it!”

Kara never did discover what ‘it’ was, nor did she figure out how the chronically anal Apollo could lose anything amongst his sparse possessions, but she was grateful to hear the locker slam and to hear Crash and Apollo take their conversation out into the hall.


When Kara did roll out of the sack about two hours later, she found herself in possession of a very nice casual duty fleece sweatshirt with a half zipper at the throat and a Viper pilot badge on the shoulder. The letters C.A.G. were embroidered along the bottom of the patch. So that’s what Lee had hit her with.

She rolled out of bed, sitting on the edge of it with the sweatshirt on her lap. She folded herself in half, stretching her back, and tried to ignore how cold the decking was on her bare feet. The movement pushed her face into the folds of the sweatshirt and as she inhaled into the stretch, she had a disturbing moment where she realized that she would probably have been able to tell that the sweatshirt was Lee’s even if it hadn’t said CAG and even if she hadn’t figured he’d be the only person brave enough to throw his stuff on her bed and then just leave it there. Or maybe he was just smart enough not to try and retrieve the thing while she was still in it.

That she could do that disturbed her a little. The effect that having done so was quite the opposite. It calmed her nerves in a subliminal way that she hadn’t even recognized the need for.

She pulled BDU pants, underwear and tanks out of her locker and took the sweatshirt, her clothes and her toiletry kit and headed off for the head to try and wake herself up before the Commander’s full group briefing.

++++++++

Starbuck and Boomer had arrived for the briefing early. With almost every pilot from every squad, Vipers and Raptors, attending this meeting, if they wanted to get seats, they needed to be early. They were sitting up front when Lee entered in his BDU pants and t-shirts. The room was almost full now with pilots who’d arrived too late to get a seat clustering around the walls and doorways. Kara was in the middle of some wildly amusing story judging by the look on Boomer’s face and the way Kara’s hands flew around as she talked.

Lee stalked up to her.

“…So he’s standing there with valve lube all over the floor, all over the wall and all over his CAG, and all the rest of the pilots could do was –“

“Starbuck,” Lee cut in, knowing that if he waited for her to finish the story he’d be standing there for a good long while. “Give me back my sweatshirt.”

She stopped for a second, cocked her head like maybe she heard something, said nothing, and then launched back into her story. “And all the rest of us could do was stand there and try not to –“

“Come on, Starbuck,” Apollo cut in again. “Give it back.”

Kara stopped again, this time turning to face him. “Um… No. I don’t think so.” She turned back to Boomer, “All we could do was try really, really hard not to laugh, which of course, we all failed miserably at and the poor guy’s CAG–“

“Come on, Kara, it’s frakking freezing in here.” Lee crossed his arms, as if to demonstrate his point.

“Finders keepers,” was Starbuck’s only reply.

“Give. Me. My. Frakking – “

“Attention on deck!” someone hollered from the back of the room.

Everyone jumped to their feet, forcing Lee to slink off to the side with a this-is-very-very-far-from-done look.

Starbuck curled her lips inward and bit down on them to keep herself from laughing out loud at him.

Commander Adama took the podium and gave one of his infrequent, but heartfelt lectures of appreciation and support, read a letter of thanks from a couple of kids on one of the civilian ships and a letter of commendation from the President.

Kara sank back into the leather seat as she listened. The troops had needed a little pick-me-up in the last couple of days. A Raptor crew had been lost in a surprise attack earlier that week and they were hitting a point in their trek where a lot of the basic comforts from home were starting to run out – candy, cigarettes, fresh fruit, body lotion, and new music or video programs were just a few of the things she’d heard people lamenting the lack of lately. Nothing that they couldn’t live without, but the lack of them reinforced just how desperate their situation was and how completely shattered every life had been. Little reminders of how much they were needed, how much they risked and gave and how much they were appreciated tended to make things go over a little smoother.

The briefing didn’t last long and as everyone stood to return the commander’s salute, Kara noticed Lee watching her out of the corner of his eye. As the commander said, “Dismissed,” he made a bee-line for her. Before he could say anything she heard Adama call out, “Apollo, if I could have just another minute?”

Starbuck grabbed Boomer by the arm, snickering. “Let’s go!”

They both bolted before Lee could even start threatening.

As they laughed their way down the hall, Boomer finally asked, “What’s his hang-up with the sweatshirt?”

Kara laughed. “He threw it on my bed this morning. While I was still sleeping in it. You know how often I get to sleep in these days? Like never. So anyway, he throws it on me and then leaves it there. So now it’s mine. Nice, isn’t it?”

“It says you’re the CAG,” Boomer pointed out, blandly.

“Yeah, as if anyone in their right mind would take orders from me.”

Both women smiled at that.

After a few more steps, Boomer turned and looked Kara over carefully. “There’s more to it, than that, isn’t there.”

Kara turned to her in confusion. “More to what?”

“Not giving the sweatshirt back.” Boomer crossed her arms over her chest. “If I tossed my clothes on your bed, I’m willing to bet they’d be thrown back at a much higher velocity and probably with a few obscene names. But this is his. So you’re keeping it.”

Starbuck rolled her eyes. “Don’t go there, Sharon. Just don’t.” There’d been a reason she’d kept her evolving feelings towards people to herself in the past. She’d never seen ‘girl talk’ accomplish anything other than the inevitable mortification that ensued when one’s friends ultimately decided they ‘knew what was best for you’ and said something to someone. Something that would end up with either one or both of the principal parties wanting to crawl under a rock and usually ending with them never speaking to one another again.

“Come here,” Sharon said, grabbing Starbuck by the arm and dragging her off to the right at the next split in the corridors.

Kara let herself be dragged down the hall until they got back to their barracks. She let herself be steered over to Boomer’s bunk and waited with her arms crossed over her chest while the other woman dug around in her locker. “What?”

Sharon finally emerged with a set of regulation undershirts. “These.”

“Your shirts…” Kara said, not understanding.

“Not mine,” Sharon said quietly, a smile and a blush developing simultaneously. “The Chief’s. Right after the war started… when Helo and I went back to Caprica and then I almost didn’t make it back…when he got me alone he was in such a hurry that he actually ripped my shirt when he pulled it off. So he gave me his so no one would ask why I was in my blues without shirts. He never asked for them back. So I kept them. And now…” the blush deepened. “Now when I can’t get his arms around me, I sleep in these. Maybe it’s incredibly childish, but…” she ended with a shrug.

Kara raised her eyebrows. “That’s very cute, Sharon, but I stole Lee’s sweatshirt just to get his boxers in a bunch. And it’s working. Seriously. No ulterior motives.”

“So you could give that back and steal his toothbrush or something and get the same satisfaction,” Boomer challenged.

“Why would I want that?” Starbuck evaded.

Boomer flopped down to sit on the edge of her bunk. “My point is –“

“Yeah, I know what your point is.” Starbuck cut her off. She crossed her arms tightly over her chest, her fingers unconsciously clutching the fabric of the shirt. She tilted her head back as far as it would go and took a deep breath before grabbing one of the chairs at the center table and straddling it, facing Sharon. “I don’t think I’ve ever been this pathetic in my life,” she finally conceded.

“It’s not pathetic. It’s cute. And it’s at least a few days entertainment for the rest of us while he tries to get it back.”

They both laughed.

Kara sighed. “I’m going to frak this up one way or another, you know,” she finally said.

“You don’t know that.”

“I haven’t gotten one damn relationship in my whole frakking life right. I’m not even sure I’d know what it felt like to get it right. I just know what it feels like when it’s all gone wrong.”

Sharon frowned at her friend. “All the rules have changed now, Kara. It’s not like we can just request reassignment when an affair screws things up. We’re stuck here. So if we do mess things up, we’re in such a sardine can that we have to patch things up and fix them. Maybe not being able to run will make it easier. ‘Cause that’s what we all do when things go really wrong. Ask for a different posting, a different division or shift. Been there, done that.”

For a minute Kara wondered exactly how much Sharon knew about how she’d come to be on Galactica. She’d run away from her responsibility for Zak’s death. Quit teaching, left the places that reminded her of him, left the actual planet itself in order to start over.

She thought about what Boomer’d said. She wouldn’t be able to run from Lee if she screwed this up. But maybe that wasn’t inherently bad. Maybe it would force them to actually confront what they felt and make peace with it one way or another instead of playing childish games.

“Now,” Boomer said, challenge clear in her voice, “Why are you keeping his sweatshirt?”

“It’s comfortable,” Kara answered. She wanted to stop there, but something about having a friend she could trust, who was sharing her secrets and personal life wouldn’t let her. “Kinda… like him.”

Sharon leaned back on her bunk, a self-satisfied smirk on her face. “My work here is done.”

+++++++

After meeting with the commander, Lee had gone to CIC to listen to a couple of the kids who were on their first actual patrol after being passed from training. He stood at the center table going over rosters and training schedules, listening to the comm traffic. And trying to figure out how to get his best friend out of his clothes.

She’d made it a challenge and he was never one to step down from a challenge.

When the kids came in, Apollo went to the flight deck to debrief and congratulate them and after that he’d been invited to have dinner with his father and Colonel Tigh.

Which meant he hadn’t gotten back to the barracks until most of the day-shift and off-shift pilots were going to bed. He came in to find about six people already in their racks and five more getting ready for bed.

“Where’s Starbuck?” he called out when he noticed her conspicuous absence.

“In the shower,” Muse called back.

Looking extremely smug Lee turned back to the hatch. Perfect. She couldn’t be wearing the damn thing in the shower. He’d go in, get it off the pegs in the back of the shower room and be gone before she got the soap out of her eyes.

“Captain Apollo! Sir!”

He paused, his hand on the hatch. “Boomer?”

She indicated the hallway beyond the hatch, “Can I have a second?”

Not having a really good reason to tell one of his pilots to hold her horses he sighed, and hoped she’d be quick and he could get down there before Kara got out and got dressed again.

“Sir, I may be way, way out of line sticking my nose in here.” She stopped and took a breath. “In fact Starbuck will probably break my nose if she hears that this came from me, but…”

When she didn’t finish her sentence Lee urged her on, “But what, Lieutenant?”

Boomer changed tactics. “Sir, I know we’re running low on everything. But… really, I’m pretty sure the quartermaster could find you a new sweatshirt.”

He didn't even pretend not to know what she was talking about, Boomer had been sitting right there in the briefing when he’d demanded it back from Kara. “Now… why would I want to bother doing that when I have a perfectly good sweatshirt already?”

Boomer was absolutely not going to explain about the conversation she’d had with Starbuck. She liked her teeth where they were. Feeling like something out of a bad romance novel written for teenagers Boomer tried, “Well, you know… it’s cold on a Battlestar in the middle of deep space… I think she’s just trying to stay… comfortable. That’s all. Sir.” And with that she snapped a quick salute hoping he’d simply return it and let the conversation drop.

Lee’s salute was a little slower, his face still showing his ample confusion. “Lieutenant.” He watched her fairly run back to her bunk, crawl under the covers and pull the curtains shut around her.

That had been an excessively odd conversation. He let himself out of the bunkroom, less intent on stalking his missing sweatshirt now, but needing some time and space to figure out what the hell he’d just been told.


The alarm went off quietly, waking those on the early shift. Lee opened one eye and then the other, traditionally a morning person in all respects, he still didn’t like the initial assault of light on his eyes. He swung off his bed, surprised to find Starbuck still curled up in hers. He kicked her ribs lightly with his bare foot. “Hey you. That’s revelry. And I happen to know you’re on the CAP this morning.”

Kara pulled her pillow over her head and muttered, “Congratulations you can read a frakking schedule,” but didn’t get up.

Lee couldn’t help but notice that she’d slept in his sweatshirt. He wondered if it was because it was the easiest way to keep him from getting it back or if it had something to do with what Boomer had sort-of said. Well, in the spirit of the game they’d started, he figured she’d have to take it off to get into her flightsuit and he could get it back then. If he raided her locker once she was out, and she made an effort to get back again, he’d let her win. If not, he’d start thinking twice when Boomer started making odd suggestions.

“Come on, Starbuck. Up.” Frankly he was surprised that she wasn’t up jogging, but having the chance to drag her out of bed was good for a few minutes of entertainment. And he figured he’d need something to make him smile when he thought about the string of long, boring meetings and the piles of paperwork he had waiting for him. He leaned down and shook her shoulder.

Kara grabbed his wrist in a vice-like grip. “How soon we forget that I don’t have any issues with striking a superior asshole,” she growled.

Lee snickered, she was so much fun in this mood. He figured he could have her completely wound up before breakfast if he tried a little harder. He let her hold his hand in place, but extended his first finger enough to poke it into her ear making her scream and bolt upright as she tried to scramble away.

“Shit! Get your finger out of - Gods!” She let go of his wrist and began rubbing the offended ear. “Good Lords, Lee, that’s … yuck!” she vigorously rubbed her ear again.

“You’re so coherent in the morning,” he snickered.

“Frak you.”

“Not with the mood you’re in. I’m likely to lose something important.” He wasn’t sure why he was baiting her like this. They teased, sure, but not usually like this. He wondered if he was beginning to think, somewhere in the back of his mind that maybe Boomer had been on to something.

“Oh for the Gods’ sake,” she muttered, finally swinging her feet out of bed and wincing as they hit the cold floor. She leaned forward to stretch and noticed Lee watching her. She got a chill down her spine and reached up to rub her ear again for good measure.

Still smiling, Lee just shook his head. “Baby. It could have been worse. I could have licked it first. Then it would have been all slimy.”

Standing up to look him in the eye she stared at him for a minute as if she had no idea who was currently inhabiting the brain of a face she knew quite well. “You’re disgusting,” she said flatly and turned to grab her toothbrush and comb out of her locker. “Now if you’ll excuse me, the idiot CAG put me on early patrol.” She slammed her locker and retreated into the head.

Once she was safely out the hatch at least four pilots let out the laughter they’d reigned in as an act of self-preservation. Crashdown came over and slung one arm across Apollo’s shoulders, “You are one brave man, Captain. Very. Very brave.”

“Very brave, or slightly stupid,” Boomer put in from where she sat on her bunk tugging on her socks. “And can I just say that I’m really glad I’m not on patrol with her this morning.”

Apollo left Starbuck alone at breakfast. There was having a little fun and there was actually pissing her off. He prided himself on usually knowing where to draw the line with her. It allowed him to avoid getting a shiner and kept her out of the brig.

He had a command staff briefing that morning that was mostly a review of what everyone knew. They were low on supplies, people were getting testy and they had no idea when they’d find an inhabitable planet. Apollo had two pilot performance reviews to do that day, but before he let himself get swallowed by paperwork, he had a locker to raid.

His sweatshirt was folded up and tucked under several sets of tanks and sweats. He was careful not to disturb anything else as he took it out and hid it under his pillow. Not the most creative place to hide something, but if he could keep her away for the rest of the afternoon, it would make sure she didn’t get it while he was sleeping. Besides, if she bothered to look for it, he might be able to figure out whether or not Boomer had been right.

+++++++

His sweatshirt was where he’d left it when he went off duty. He changed out of his blues and into BDUs and the much-coveted sweatshirt and headed back out to the ready room to see if he could get in on the poker game.

Playing for money had gotten old, since there was nothing to buy, so people had been tossing in everything from cigarettes to socks to notes promising to take the winner’s next maintenance shift.

When he came into the room, Kara was studying her cards intently. Gaeta had apparently folded already and D. was tapping her cards on her lips. Crashdown was rearranging his cards, apparently trying to make something out of nothing. “Frak it, I’m out,” he finally decided and tossed his cards down on the table.

D. threw in a pack of gum, “Let’s see,” she called to Kara.

Kara set her cards down on the table slowly, “Four on a run.”

D. groaned and rolled her eyes. “Damn! I had three on a run. I thought I finally had you. That’s all I’ve got. At least all that I’m willing to lose in one night. Anyone else want to get in?”

Lee moved away from the wall he’d been leaning on. “Let’s go Starbuck. Let’s see what you’ve got.”

“Sure you know what you’re getting yourself into?”

“I’m sure it’s nothing I can’t handle.” Apollo took the deck of cards and began shuffling.

+++++++

Two hours later the game was pretty even. Lee’d won the gum D.’d lost earlier and a note that said Starbuck had to go two days saying, “yes sir” and “no sir” without the attitude she was so famous for.

Kara’d won a cigar she hadn’t realized he’d been hiding and one of the last mystery novels published before the end of the worlds that Lee had won from someone in the last game.

Now it was all back in the middle of the table along with a few other odds and ends and they were both trying to play it extremely cool.

“I’ll take two,” Kara said as she slid two of her cards under the deck. She bit her lip as she shuffled in her replacements.

“One,” Lee said tossing the octagonal card onto the table and taking the one she passed him. She had a better poker face than he did, he knew that, but it was okay. He was going to take this one, so he didn’t care if his face showed it.

Kara dug around in her pants pocket and tossed a music chip into the pile. “What’cha got left, Apollo?”

Feeling extremely smug, Apollo pulled off his sweatshirt and tossed it on the table. He was sure he’d get it back, so he didn’t mind teasing her with it.

“Read ‘em weep,” he called out. “Four on a run.”

Kara smiled sadly and nodded. “I see.”

She waited until started to reach for the stash in the middle of the table and then smacked the back of his hand. “Hey! Not so fast.” She gave him a coy grin. “Full colors.”

Lee looked at her cards and dropped his head into his hands. He had been so sure he’d had her. She’d had full colors three hands ago. The chances of her getting it again had been so remote that he was sure four on a run would be the winning hand and he’d had that before he even traded in his last card. That had just been a bluff.

“Well, it’s been fun boys and girls,” Kara said as she stood and wrapped everything up in the sweatshirt, “But I have to go train some nuggets in the morning, so I’m out of here. Thanks for such a fabulous night.”

She heard the thunk of Apollo’s head on the table as she closed the hatch behind her.

+++++++

It wasn’t often that Starbuck and Apollo got their signals crossed, but when they did, it was usually fodder for the gossip mill for at least a week. This was no exception.

With the limited number of marines still aboard the Galactica at the time of the apocalypse, pilots were being asked to fill in as security as needed. That meant training the nuggets not only how to fly, but also how to fight and how to shoot as well.

It was supposed to be a simple hand-to-hand combat drill. Starbuck and Apollo were teaching them a combination of martial arts, boxing and wrestling moves, with the basic message of, ‘use whatever works.’

They’d gone over a number of maneuvers in isolation and then prepared to show them a simulated take-down. Things went fine through the first three scenarios, where they set up a potential situation and then improvised on what to do in that situation. It was the fourth one that would have everyone talking for weeks.

Starbuck had been the perp and Apollo had moved up to put her into a full nelson – his arms under hers, with his hands bent back toward himself grabbing her shoulders, and immobilizing her arms. He expected her to go into the standard counter-move – to put her hands straight up and then shimmy down out of his grasp. Instead, she did something unexpected as he grabbed her, she went up onto her toes. Not realizing what she was doing, Lee completed the move on instinct, his elbows bending and his hands latching on to her.

And he got ahold of her. Unfortunately, he’d moved down a little in anticipation of the expected counter-move and she’d gone up and what he got ahold of wasn’t her shoulders.

When the flesh beneath his fingers yielded far more than it should have, Lee froze. “Oh frak!”

Kara froze too, turning her head to glare at him. “Find something interesting?” she asked when he didn’t seem inclined to move his hands.

Lee jumped back like he’d been burned. “Oh shit. I’m sorry. That wasn’t…” He cleared his throat. “Sorry.”

Kara rolled her eyes and shook her head. “I think I’ll live. Though I would have expected a little more finesse when being groped by the great Apollo.” She winked at him and clicked her tongue.

Lee smacked her in the back of the head, “Wiseass.” He tried for normal, but knew he was still blushing. He wondered how hard a person had to blush before giving himself an aneurism.

The rest of the training went without incident and Kara found herself still laughing as she and Apollo hit the showers back in quarters.

“Kara, I am so sorry,” Lee tried again. “I thought you were going to drop down, so I went to move with you and then you didn’t-“

“Lee, stop!” She held up a hand to try and stem the blabbering apology. “It’s not a big deal.” She pulled out the front of her tanks and made a show of checking for bruises. “No harm, no foul.” She let her tanks snap back into place, “Besides, it’s the most action I’ve seen in ages.”

Lee found himself blushing again, and Kara wondered if she hadn’t hit a little too close to home. She grinned at him before stepping into the shower stall, “Besides, you should be honored. If anyone else had tried to cop a feel like that, they’d be holding their balls in a ditty bag.”

Lee chuckled nervously, wondering if that was a compliment or a thinly veiled threat. He turned on the shower and let the cool water force back some of the heat in his face. It wasn’t as if he hadn’t wanted to find himself with her breasts in his hands, but that certainly hadn’t been how he’d wanted to go about it. Especially in front of a room full of nuggets. Alone and with a few less layers of clothes between them…

He turned the water temperature down before his train of thought got him in even more trouble.

+++++++

Sharon grabbed a tray and made her way to where Kara was eating and reading the book she’d won in the poker game. “Want some company?”

Kara flipped the book shut. “Sure. How was CAP?”

“Boring as hell, but you know, that beats the alternative.” Sharon made a face at the bread and cheese-substitute she’d gotten.

Kara nodded, “True.”

“I heard you had quite an exciting afternoon,” Boomer said as she took an experimental bite of the bread.

Kara almost choked on her noodles. “Damn, that one’s making the rounds fast.”

Boomer fixed her with a level gaze. “The CAG grabbed your boobs in front of a room full of horny kids. Of course, it’s making the rounds. You using this?” She pointed to a couple squares of butter on the sides of Kara’s tray.

Kara angled her plate so Boomer could snag her butter. “You should have seen his face. Once he realized that he was not holding my shoulders, he just froze. I had to tell him to move his hands he was so panicked. I didn’t know he could turn that color crimson.”

Boomer laughed. “I would have loved to have seen that.” The butter made the bread much more palatable she found.

Kara pushed her noodles around for a minute. “I would have thought it would have taken a lot more to get Apollo all flustered. It’s been hysterical, really, he’s been apologizing all day.” She leaned in to try and avoid being overheard. “I mean, it’s not like I was complaining, you know?”

Boomer covered her mouth with her hand to avoid spitting out her bread. “Sounds like he wasn’t either.” She raised an eyebrow.

Kara shrugged, but didn’t say anything.

“Seriously,” Sharon said, “One of the two of you needs to do something about this. Before you have another little ‘accidental’ PDA.”

Kara dropped her fork and leveled Boomer with a stare. “Right.”

“Oh come on, like there’s really any risk of rejection! If he didn’t want you just as much as you want him, he would not have freaked out about an accidental grope.”

Kara grabbed her fork and stabbed at her noodles with way more force than was absolutely necessary. She wasn’t going to concede the point. Yet. Though she did file the thought away for further review.

That night, as she lay in bed, she realized that it was all she could think of, so she finally conceded the point, at least to herself. She either needed to do something, or stop thinking about it entirely, and since the latter wasn’t likely to happen…

She sighed as she rolled over, wondering exactly what the best way to do this would be. She need a way that would make her intentions clear, but would let them both back out gracefully if things went pear-shaped.

+++++++


Later that week she came into his office late at night to deliver her trainee evaluations. He’d hung the jacket of his blues on the back of his chair when it had become apparent that he was going to be working for a while and was in his tanks and pants, and he’d kicked his shoes off under the desk.

She was in the sweatshirt she’d won off him and sweats. Lee glared at her as she played with the zipper, and then coughed nervously as he realized that had she been wearing any, he would have been able to see her tanks when she pulled the zipper down, but all that was under there was skin.

He shook his head to clear it of the image his brain was busy fine-tuning. “You know,” he said casually, not even aware that he’d interrupted whatever she’d been saying about the trainees, “I’m going to get you out of that sweatshirt.”

The way her mouth hung open with no sound coming out made him realize that he’d said that out loud. “I mean – I-I’m going to get my sweatshirt back.”

Starbuck resumed playing with the zipper, stopping with it pulled down enough that Lee was quite certain she wasn’t wearing anything underneath it. “Come get it,” she tossed back.

“Don’t try me,” he told her, flipping though the folders she’d handed him in an effort not to do exactly what she said.

He heard the zipper go up and down a few more times. “I mean it, Kara. Knock it off before I go over there and – “

She leaned down over the desk, her hands shoulder-width apart, knowing exactly what view she’d be giving him. “Or you’ll what?”

Lee moved around the desk and spun the wheel on the hatch, locking it. He leveled her with a look that clearly said that the challenge was on. Now it was a game of chicken; first to back down lost. He’d lost one challenge to her already; he wasn’t about to lose another.

She stood up and planted herself in front of him. “Want your sweatshirt back?”

He moved towards her slowly, and as predicted, she backed up as he got in her personal space. He kept moving her back until she was against the wall. “Yeah. So give it to me.”

He wondered when the hell he’d learn that she never bluffed.

Lee felt color rise in his cheeks as she grabbed the hem and turned it inside out as she stripped it off. She threw it at his face and he caught it awkwardly.

Yep, he was right. Nothing under the sweatshirt.

It wasn’t like he hadn’t seen her undressed before, but this was a whole new context. He stretched his neck wondering what the hell happened next.

Kara moved forward and looped her arms around his neck. “We’ve been dancing around this for… probably since the war started. We either need to stop dancing around it and do something about it or we need to decide that it’s never going to happen and move on.”

Lee let the sweatshirt fall to the floor and his arms went around her waist. “What do you want?”

Kara rolled her eyes. “I’m standing here without a shirt. What do you think?”

Instead of answering, Lee kissed her.

There was no ambiguity in her response. She threaded the fingers of one hand through his hair and held him still while she kissed him back as thoroughly as she knew how.

Lee pulled her hips in contact with his body, feeling her naked breasts against the knit of his tanks. He let one hand slide down and squeeze her butt, holding her tight against him, so that she could feel his erection press into her hip.

He pulled back for just a second, there had been no hesitancy on her part so far, but he needed to be sure, “Kara?”

“You’re chickening out now?” she asked, her hand coming around his neck slowly and drifting down his chest to the waistband of his blues. She slid her fingers inside and wrapped them around his belt, pulling him back in contact with her.

“No,” Lee finally answered her question.

He ran his hands up her sides from her waist until his thumbs were grazing the sides of her breasts. Encouraged by the way she dropped her head back and arched her spine, he slid his hands around until his fingertips were tucked under her breasts and his thumbs could drift slowly over her nipples. He let one hand drop to the small of her back and pulled her in close while his other hand continued to gently caress the smooth skin under it.

He leaned in to kiss her behind her ear. He only pulled back far enough to whisper, “But you better tell me now if this isn’t going where I think it is.”

“I don’t want to stop if you don’t,” she said reaching around to hook one hand around his waist, the other sliding down over his ass.

The CAG’s office on a battlestar had a few perks. In this case a small couch for use when dealing with small groups of pilots was one of them. Lee pulled her over to it and sat down. “Come here.” He pulled her up so that her legs straddled his as she stood above him, which put him eye-level with her belly. He kissed her stomach and tugged her closer even as he scooted back a little more. She climbed up to straddle his lap and lowered herself until she was kneeling over his lap and he was holding her up with his arms around her waist. He slid one hand up her spine until he could tilt her head down and kiss her properly.

Kara looped her arms around his neck again and returned the kiss eagerly, rubbing her body against his as she did.

Rather suddenly Lee pulled away, his hands going to Kara’s hips to pull her back and keep her from falling at the same time. “Frak!”

Kara’s eyes shifted back and forth a couple of times before she finally looked at him again and said caustically, “Well that WAS the idea.” She planted her fists on her hips.

“Kara,” he sighed and dropped his eyes, which put her breasts into full view again and he had to shake his head to clear it of the image and remember why he stopped. He took a deep breath and tried again. “Kara, believe me, I have not changed my mind. But uh…” He cleared his throat. “We don’t have any protection.”

She laughed quietly and put her arms around his neck again. “Then I guess it’s a good thing that I’ve had all my shots.”

Lee’s expression was priceless. “You’re on… You… oh. Okay.”

Kara pulled her legs out from under her and wrapped them around his waist. “I started on them back at the academy and,” she shrugged, “Never got out of the habit I guess. I have no desire to lose my wings ‘cause I got caught up in the moment. This seemed the easiest way.”

Lee frowned. “Is that what this is? You’re just caught up in the moment?”

Kara looked dumbstuck. “No. Lee, I didn’t mean it like that.” She sighed. She really didn’t want to actually have a conversation with him about this. But this was Apollo. She should have known better. “Look, there have been times in my life where I act first and think later. Landing in the brig ‘cause I hit someone is a temporary thing. Getting pregnant because I… handled things a different way is a lot more permanent. I didn’t want to take a chance. That’s why I’m on the shots. That’s not why I’m here now.”

Lee nodded and ran his hands up and then down her sides again letting them rest on her hips. “I just want to make sure you’ll be able to look me in the eye tomorrow.”

“I won’t say that I’ve never screwed up a friendship with sex, but I think it was because there wasn’t a solid enough base for either one and I tried to act like there was.” She began fingering the hair at his neck. “We’ve been friends for so long. Even if we decide, later, that this wasn’t the best idea we’ve ever had, I can’t imagine us not being able to get past it. Chalk it up to experience and move on. We can do that if we need to, right?”

“Absolutely.” Lee let his hands trail back up until he was caressing her breasts again. He looked up, shocked, when she put her hands on his shoulders and moved away as soon as he did. “Wait… what’d I miss?”

“Nothin’. Yet.” Kara said as she stood up in front of him. “But I sure as hell can’t get my pants off sitting on you like that.”

Lee had to bite his lip and squeeze his eyes closed to keep from coming right then and there. When she crawled back up on his lap, his hands instinctively went behind her and supported her back. Without the waistband of her pants to serve as a guide between friendly touching and more-than-friendly touching, he found his hands slipping lower and lower until he was sure that his hands were no longer on what would technically be considered her back. He let his hands drift down until the backs of his fingers hit the fabric of his pants and then began touching her in earnest. It had been so long since he’d been with anyone, that just the sensation of his hands against all that bare skin was breathtaking. He felt heat bloom in his cheeks as he realized that he was still completely dressed and she was climbing all over him completely naked. He decided it was the sexiest thing he’d ever experienced in his life.

He slid his hands up and down her back, kissing her and taking the time to find out which places made her sigh and which made her jump. She was busy clawing at his tanks, trying to get them up and over his head without interrupting him.

He finally laughed and broke the kiss to let her pull them over his head. Once she’d dropped them on the floor, he got her resettled on his lap and ran his hands up to her shoulders and supported her as she arched back.

She gasped as he took one nipple in his mouth and sucked. Hard. She crossed her legs behind his back and held on for dear life as he flicked his tongue over the hardened flesh.

When she could breathe again she decided it was time to move things along. She sat up and grabbed the end of Apollo’s belt and quickly undid the belt, button and zipper and pushed his pants out of the way.

He was hard and hot and she remembered how long it had been since she’d been with anyone and decided that another minute was one minute too long.

She got up on her knees and leaned on the back of the couch over his shoulder so he could push his pants and boxers out of the way far enough for their purposes, even if he couldn’t get them completely off.

He started to push her back, trying to lay her on the couch, but she stopped him. “Uh-uh.” She pushed on his shoulder until he sat down again, and then from where she was kneeling over him, she took his shaft in his hand, held him still and sank down.

Lee let out a loud long sigh and his head hit the wall behind him with a thunk. Kara laughed. It was kind of nice to know that he was as desperate as she was.

She set a slow pace at first, Lee’s hand steadying her back as she rose up and sank down, experimenting with a few different angles before finding the one she liked best. Once she knew what was going to work for her, she began to speed up. She closed her eyes and focused on what he felt like and what he sounded like as she had her way with him.

Lee let her take total control for a few minutes, one hand between her shoulder blades to help her balance, but otherwise doing nothing active. After she found her rhythm he remembered that he had a free hand. He rested it on the notch at the base of her neck for a second before dragging it slowly down her body until his fingers found wet heat.

Kara gasped and her fingers tightened their hold on his shoulders as his finger slid against her clit. She dropped her head against his, breathing heavily on his neck as he pressed against her again. The third time caused her to loose her rhythm for a second. By the time he was rubbing two fingers up and down against her, she wasn’t so much riding him as she was just writhing against him.

She buried her face in his neck when she came. She didn’t scream. Too many years of living amongst twenty of your closest friends taught most pilots to keep quiet at all costs. But her breathing was sharp and Lee was sure he heard his name once or twice.

Her body seizing around his was the last straw. He dropped his head back and let himself go with a groan.

He made sure they both stayed on the couch as they tipped to their sides in exhaustion. They landed with Kara partially on top of him, their noses nearly colliding. Lee’s eyebrows shot up in a “well hello there” look and he laughed. Kara leaned in and kissed him quickly.

After they arranged themselves somewhat more comfortably, Lee looked at her quizzically, “Well?” he asked, not really sure exactly what he was asking.

Kara made a face at him. “Well what?” She studied his face for a minute. “Please tell me you are not asking for a performance review.”

Lee blushed. “No. No, that’s not really what… I don’t know what I meant.”

They both laughed.

After another long minute, Kara sat up, realizing that she did actually know what Lee was asking. “So… not a mistake?”

“Definitely not a mistake,” Lee said with a cat-that-got-the-cream smile.

Never the one to know how to make a graceful exit from situations like these, Kara sat picking at her thumbnail, debating whether or not she should get dressed and go or… or what?

Lee sat up next to her. He put his arm around her waist. “You have CAP in the morning. You should probably get some sleep.”

Kara nodded and reached for her underwear. “I suppose I should.”

Lee stood and pulled his pants up, realizing he’d never actually gotten them all the way off. He held out a hand and pulled Kara to her feet. They both dressed in silence, handing each other clothing they found that wasn’t their own.

Lee handed Kara the sweatshirt that had started it all.

“I thought you wanted your shirt back,” she said with a cocky grin.

“I’ll take it back some other time. Right now, if you leave without it, you’re going to end up getting arrested for indecent exposure,” he reminded her.

She smiled as she pulled it over her head. “Just let me know when you want me to give it back.”

She unlocked the door and stepped through, leaving Lee with no doubt as to how she planned to return it.


Sex is a bad thing because it rumples the clothes.
Jacqueline Kennedy