"Gods bless whoever thought to bring booze on this frakking ship," Jean says, knocking back a shot. It's bitter- worse than bitter- but no one cares. After all, when all you can smell is shit, that's all anything tastes like as well. Anders grins at her, and she ruffles his hair. "You holding up there, Sammy?" she asks him affectionately.
"Yeah," he says with a sigh, and she knows that while he is, he's not enjoying it. He fiddles with his drink, staring at it like it's the most fascinating thing in the world. "I'm starting to get used to the smell," he says, like that's something to be happy about. "It's only taken, what, two weeks?"
"Still stinks," Jean grouses.
"My problem is that there isn't any room to play a decent game." He looks around the common area and grimaces. "It's criminal. You and me on the same ship with tons of free time and we can't even so much as toss the ball around."
"Cards just aren't the same," Jean agrees. She pours herself a bit more of the booze. "Surprised you aren't up in the Captain's quarters."
"Kara's busy," Anders answers with a shrug.
Jean isn't so easily fooled. Or distracted. "I don't mean right now," she says. "I mean in general. I mean, she is your wife."
"And we were sharing quarters before she came back from the dead, right?" Anders says. There's a forced cheerfulness there, and Jean realizes he doesn't want to be pushed on the matter. "Kara and I are complicated."
"Yeah." Jean swallows her drink again.
It's funny, because in his way, Sam Anders is the least complicated man that Jean has ever known. Oh, it's not that he's a one-trick pony or dumb as a box of hammers or anything like that. Quite the opposite. But Sam has always known what he's about and known what he wants, and that's what she's always envied in him. That confidence, that belief… that simplicity. If Sam doesn't like something, he changes it or deals with it.
"See," Sam's saying, "the thing that people don't get about Kara is that she's got her own rules. You have to understand what Kara values. Kara doesn't value sex. It doesn't mean anything to her. But what she does value…" he points a finger and a half-cocked grin in Jean's direction. "She doesn't make her promises lightly. When Kara makes a promise, it's because she believes in it. Because she means it. People don't get that, but it's true."
He believes it, she can see that. But at the same time, he's got the look of a man convincing himself, and she realizes that he believes it because he wants to.
"Ever think life would have been easier if she'd just stayed dead?" Jean asks before she can stop herself.
Sam's smile suddenly turns bitter and ugly. "All the time."
It's late when Sam leaves Kara's quarters, and most of the crew is either working or is sleeping. But as he stumbles into the common area, he sees Felix Gaeta sitting alone at a table, working with a bottle beside him.
"Mind if I join you?" Sam asks as he staggers over.
Gaeta gives him a thin, sardonic smile and pushes the bottle to the middle of the table. "Go right ahead," he says, turning his papers over. As he does so, Sam can see they're not work, but letters. "Thought you were in for the night."
"Yeah, well, I was hoping so, too." Sam realizes he's really drunk. If he wasn't, he wouldn't have said that. He also wouldn't be noticing the structure of Gaeta's arms, or the fact that when he smiles again, there's a dimple in one cheek that's really rather cute. He only notices men if he's really, really hammered. He snorts and pours himself another shot from Gaeta's stash.
"You know," he tells Gaeta, "you are the only man on board that I am positive has never slept with my wife."
Gaeta picks up his drink. "Never have and never will," he agrees wholeheartedly. "I can promise you that."
"Cause you don't like women, right?"
"Because I don't like your wife." He gives that wicked grin again. "Never have and never will," he repeats.
Sam holds up his glass and Gaeta clinks it in a cheers fashion. He knows he shouldn't be so bitter- Kara's got too much on her shoulders right now- but Gods damn it, even he's entitled to a night of drunken anger at his lot every now and then. "You know what would really piss her off?" he says to Gaeta. "If you and me slept together."
Gaeta chokes on the alcohol he just swallowed so hard it comes out his nose. He dissolves into a fit of coughing, and Sam wonders if he should take offense. He debates it for a moment, and then decides not to. "Sorry, man," he says, as Gaeta begins to pull himself back together. "Didn't mean for that to happen."
"Extremely attractive, huh?" And for a moment, Gaeta's eyes roam over him, assessing and measuring. But there's something about the way he still sits, angled away and tense, that Sam knows the answer already.
"Not your normal type?" he asks lightly.
"For a relationship, no," Felix answers, as if it's an academic question. "But for a quick, meaningless frak? Sure, I think I could handle you." He winks.
"I'm not looking for the relationship. I've already got one of those." Sam rolls his eyes.
"Yeah, me too," Felix says. His hand falls on the letter he was writing. "And that's why I'm saying no."
It's not an argument when Sam says, "So, wait a minute. You're out here on this ship. It's just you and me right now, and no one would ever know."
"Except Starbuck. That was the point."
"Right. But pretend she wouldn't. You and me and no one would ever know, and you won't do it because you've got someone else?"
"Exactly." Felix smiles. "Just like you don't really want to do it, either."
He's right, but Sam ignores that. He takes the letter before Felix can fight it and turns it over. Dear Louis. He has to think for a moment, and then he finally remembers exactly who that is.
"Right," he says, getting to his feet. "When we get back to the Galactica, I'm gonna tell Hoshi just how lucky he is." He claps Gaeta on the shoulder, and then stumbles off to his rack. "Good night."
Felix tries not to think of Louis too often. It's not that he doesn't want to. It's that he's afraid that if he does, he'll jinx it somehow. That while he's gone, Louis will find someone else, someone who isn't still raw and bleeding inside. Intellectually, he knows that Louis would never do that. But after loving Gaius Baltar, it's kind of hard to believe that emotionally.
It's gotten to be something of a joke among the crew, the way he writes to Louis when he can't send the letters. And so he's hardly surprised when someone sits down across from him and says, "Another letter?"
It is a surprise when he looks up to see Seelix.
But Seelix has a pack of cards and a bottle of booze, and she takes the papers away from him without a word. Ironically, this time they were actual star charts, but he's been at them for hours and he doesn't really mind their momentary absence. Without asking, she deals.
He picks the cards up, and she quirks up an eyebrow. "Got a seven?" she asks, spreading the cards across the table.
He almost laughs. "Go fish."
It's an easy game to play, and without them discussing it they start evolving more grownup rules. If you have to fish, you take a drink. If you have to hand over a card, you take a drink. If you lose, you down a shot.
They play three games before Seelix says it, out of the blue. "I'm sorry, you know. For the Circle."
"I know," Felix says, because he does, and also because that doesn't mean he feels like talking about it.
Amazingly enough, she gets that, and she just nods. And that's why he says, "You were going to let me go after you found out what I was doing."
"I'd like to think so. I was… angry." He looks up at her, meets her eyes, and wonders what all really happened to her on New Caprica. But they're on the same side again and New Caprica is a divider, so he doesn't ask. He just accepts that it was bad. "Not that anger excuses everything," Seelix says. "It doesn't excuse that Starbuck still would have opened the airlock, even after Chief told us what you'd done. Do you have a five?"
"Go fish." He debates answering her last comment, but the alcohol loosened his tongue and his mouth doesn't bother to connect to his brain. "Every time she comes into my life, she seems to manage to make it a little bit worse."
Seelix doesn't glare at him disapprovingly. Instead, she actually considers the little she knows of him and the chaos that is Starbuck. "Yeah," she says, and lays down a pair. "I can see that. She kind of does it to me, too."
Sam's not in the room, but everyone knows that Seelix has a thing for him. Even Sam knows it, although he plays dumb. Felix doesn't think anything ever would have come of it, but what does he know? After all, he was the one who was in love with Gaius Baltar for over two years. He doesn't say anything, just pulls a card from their fish pile and drinks.
"Even Anders is getting frustrated with her," he finally says, after he's had to swallow his drink for losing at a child's game. "When she can't even manage to lead him around by the balls anymore, you know it's getting bad."
Seelix nods and smiles, and the mood finally relaxes between them.
There is nothing to do on this frakking ship, and it drives Diana crazy. She doesn't mind being on duty at all, because at least then she's busy. Diana's never been afraid of work. But this idle sitting around… it lets her mind wander, and that's really not what Diana wants.
When her mind wanders, she thinks of New Caprica. When her mind wanders, she thinks of Aerelon. And when her mind wanders, she can't help but think too much about this frakking mission they're on.
She didn't volunteer. Some people did, but a few of them, like her and Gaeta, were conscripted because of their skill sets. So when Helo, who put her name on the list, sits down with her, she glares.
"What do you want?" It's been a month and a half, but still can't be gracious to him. She will be after they're off this frakking shit ship.
But Helo's not looking for a fight. "I'm just looking for a drink," he tells her. In the dim lights of the common area, he looks worn, tired. She softens a bit and pushes the bottle to him. He pours his glass and takes it neatly, barely grimacing at the taste.
"Any news on where we're going this time?" she asks wearily.
Helo shakes his head, and suddenly, Seelix realizes that he's not happy, either. That he's got a kid back on the Galactica that he hasn't seen in a month and a half. They're no closer to Earth than when they started, no matter what anyone says. And everyone is miserable. "She changed the course again," Helo says.
Seelix sighs and rubs her forehead. "Helo," she begins, and she doesn't know where she's getting the courage to say this, "do you ever wonder what really happened to Starbuck those two months she was gone?"
He scowls. "Of course I wonder," Helo says. "Who doesn't?"
"But what is she? How can we be sure-"
He cuts her off with fire in his eye. "The Old Man would know," he says, but his protest lacks any fire.
With what? Seelix thinks. He didn't know Boomer was a Cylon. Cavil was on board for how long before we found out? The Old Man isn't a walking Cylon detector. But she doesn't say it, because Helo's got that look and she's pretty sure it won't make a difference anyway. "Right," she says. But she can't help asking, "How the frak do you put up with it?"
Helo glares at her. "It's my job," he says. "And it's your job, too. Remember that, soldier."
She sticks her tongue out at him. He stares at her for a moment in shock, and she looks cross-eyed down at her tongue, unbelieving that she just did that. And suddenly, they both dissolve into laughter.
Two more days left. There are only two more days left. Helo can't wait. He can almost feel Hera in his arms again, her curly hair against his cheek and her little arms around his neck. Just two more days, and then this joke of a mission can come to an end.
He's got pressure on him every day. From Athena, who doesn't trust a word Starbuck says. From Seelix, who hasn't said it, but everyone knows she thinks that Starbuck's a Cylon. From Pike, who flat-out agrees with Seelix and has said it. From Gaeta, who keeps his barbs veiled and his anger passive, and is at his most annoying that way. From Anders, who insists that Starbuck is Captain and a goddess resurrected, and all must obey her whims. From Hot Dog, who just wants to go home.
They all just want to go home.
He's wishing he had the Admiral's gift of words, or at least the Colonel's way of making everyone shut the frak up when Jean Barolay sits down with him. After two months on a cramped ship, they all know each other pretty well, so Helo isn't surprised at all. What he is surprised about is the aura of… well, he doesn't know what to call it, but it's not anger.
"That's the first smile I've seen all day," he says.
She hands him a drink. "Hopefully this will bring on another."
He accepts the drink but doesn't think he'll give the smile. "Thanks. What's got you so happy?" he asks.
"I wouldn't say happy," Barolay says with another smile. "Just going on faith."
"Faith," Helo snorts. "Faith in what?"
"We're going to find Earth."
"In the next two days? You've got a lot more faith than I could ever have."
Barolay cocks her head. "She's your best friend, isn't she?"
"Friendship doesn't mean I grant her supernatural powers," Helo says. "She's not psychic."
Barolay swallows the rest of her drink. "Sam told me something, back when we first started this mission. He said when Kara makes a promise, she keeps it. She's got her faults, but you know that much is true."
"It is," Helo has to agree.
"She promised she'd find us Earth. I believe her." Barolay makes it sound so simple.
Helo nods absently. There's something true in what she says, and even a month ago he would have agreed with her entirely. But he also knows there are some promises that you just can't keep, because it's beyond your control to make them happen. "Yeah," he finally says. "She doesn't break her promises easily."
Barolay seems to think that solves everything, and stands on up. But as Helo watches her walk off, the crew's discontent whispers at the edges of his mind, and he knows that they're the ones that are right. And the fact that Kara doesn't break her promises only makes what he has to do that much harder.