Billy gaped at Gaeta. "You're kidding, right?"
"No, I'm serious. If you ever want to join us…" Gaeta's voice trailed off invitingly.
Billy thought about it. "It's been so long. I didn't think I'd ever have the chance again. Especially being with Dee. She'd never be into that kind of thing."
"Tell me about it. I suggested it once to her and she nearly laughed herself sick."
Billy cringed. "You won't tell her, will you?"
Gaeta shook his head. "Of course not."
"It's just that it's so hard to find a good Master…" Billy sighed.
Gaeta grinned evilly. "Trust me. This one is… you won't regret it."
I can't believe you're doing this, Six complained as Baltar stuffed the notebooks into the nearest lab drawer. It's not befitting of you at all. If anyone ever found out…
"Yes, well, they won't, now will they?" Baltar said. He moved aside some vials. "It would really hurt my reputation."
You could forget the blondes, Six mused. She brightened. Maybe there are worse things.
"Can't think of too many." He moved a few stools around.
You are not going to do it on the table.
"Why not? It's not like there are better places in here." He seemed supremely unconcerned by it. "And no one ever comes down here. We won't be disturbed."
Six sniffed. You'd better hope not, or you'll never be taken seriously again.
Cottle checked his smokes. If this went like usual, he'd need a full pack, at least. Maybe more, if that nutcase of a doctor decided to mooch a few off him. If it wasn't for the fact that the man was so frakking skilled….
But this sort of thing was like an addiction. You might think you can do without it, but try it for a few years and you find out you can't. Of course, Baltar was nothing like old Martin had been, but there weren't many people into this sort of thing, and you had to take what you could get.
With a furtive look around he slipped out of the sick bay.
"I'm just saying it doesn't always have to be about sex," Tigh said as he strode through the halls. "Why is it always about sex?"
"Because that's what people do, Saul. I'm surprised I even have to explain this," Ellen said. "Come on. Won't you consider it? Please?"
"It's sick," Tigh insisted. "That sort of thing just isn't right."
Ellen sniffed. "You're no fun at all."
Cavil grabbed his notes and walked through the halls of Galactica, whistling cheerfully. This sort of thing was such a fascinating look into the human mind, and what they were capable of creating. What they were capable of believing. Really, it was appropriate that it was held in a lab, because behavior like this certainly required study.
The lights in the lab were low. Gaius had even lit candles for ambience, a move which had thrown Six into hysterical laughter. But honestly, if you were going to do this sort of thing you had to do it right.
"All right," he said, pulling his chair up to the table. Gaeta was sitting next to him, hands folded as he glanced over the notes Baltar had made. Roslin's young aide Billy looked nervous and excited at the same time- completely normal, with new partners. Cottle was smoking, Cavil was watching Ellen and Tigh bicker bemusedly. Baltar pulled out a small box.
"All right," he said. "You enter a small room, and you hear breathing. Roll a D20."
"Billy, do you have your character sheet?" Baltar asked. Billy nodded. "Let me look." He took the sheet and brightened. "Oh. Oh, yes. This is good. Quite good, actually. Who knew you had it in you?"
"I did," Ellen said. "He totally looks the type."
"Should I be insulted by that?" Billy asked.
Gaeta looked over Baltar's shoulder. "Druidic magic could be interesting."
Baltar swatted him away. "Stop peeking. This is fine, Billy."
"Well, then, let's get started," Tigh growled. "I'm in the mood to kill things."
"I'm right there with you, brother," Cavil said.
"All right," Cottle said slowly. "My paladin prays and swings his broadsword."
"Roll," Baltar ordered.
"Missed," Cottle said, and swore.
"Let's try to take this bastard down with the axe." He rolled. "Yes! Hit!"
Baltar rolled his own die. "Eight points of damage. The dragon roars in pain and rears back."
"Yes!" Tigh hissed.
Billy shook his head. "My wilder elf picks up a rock and throws it."
"A rock," Cavil deadpanned.
"Well, what else can I do?" Billy asked. "The frakker broke my staff, I've used my spell for the day, and I've fired all of my arrows. I'm not going to just stand there and become dragon food, so I'll throw a rock."
Baltar snickered. "Roll." Billy obeyed and rolled a twenty. Baltar raised his eyebrows. "Critical hit. Roll the D100." And he pulled out a table from his notes.
Billy did so, and silence fell over the room as they all froze.
"What?" Billy asked.
"What the frak are the odds?" Cottle breathed.
Baltar was still staring at the table. "A fifty is instant death to your opponent."
Billy goggled, and Gaeta started laughing. "You just killed the dragon with a rock," he said. He buried his head in his arms, his shoulders shaking.
"A rock," Ellen repeated.
Tigh reached down and pulled up the bottle he'd brought. "I think it's time we all had a drink."
"Yes! Barfight! My warrior jumps over the table and punches him!"
Tigh sighed. "Will someone please take the booze away from Gaeta before he gets us all killed?"
"I had no idea you were so bloodthirsty," Billy said, removing the bottle.
"I am in the military," Gaeta pointed out. "I'm the one that fires the nukes. Viper jocks only wish they could kill as many Cylons at one time as I can."
"Easy there, Tiger," Tigh growled, taking the booze from Billy and pouring out more for himself. "But you said there are five guys there?" he asked Baltar. Baltar nodded. "Fine," Tigh conceded. "My orc is in. And don't make your elven mage swoon," he ordered Ellen.
Ellen shut her mouth abruptly. Then she regrouped. "Why not?" she demanded. "It's all part of the story."
"The story?" Tigh demanded. "Who the hell cares about the story? The point is to kill things."
"No, Colonel, Ellen's got a point there," Baltar said.
"Thank you, Doctor," Ellen said, smiling flirtatiously. "It's a story, and a story is about more than just the violence."
"But it doesn't make any sense," Cavil complained. "What's the point of introducing a sexual relationship into this campaign?"
"Because it's not just sex," Billy spoke up. "When people are in love, it determines what they do."
"Well, that's just stupid," Cavil said. "I like to think humans are more intelligent than that they can be led about by their cocks."
"His character is an orc," Gaeta pointed out helpfully. Cavil ignored him.
"It doesn't add anything," Cavil insisted.
"It's not that simple," Billy said. "Love doesn't determine everything you do, but it certainly adds another dimension. And not just romantic love- any kind of love. Fraternal, parental, friendship, patriotism…. Unless our characters are all out just to kill things and get treasure, of course."
"But he's an orc!" Tigh insisted. "Last time I checked, orcs were crossbred between goblins and-"
"No," Cottle said, lighting up a cigarette. "They're elf men, corrupted and distorted by magic."
"See?" Ellen asked. "And because my mage is in love with him, she's looking for a spell to bring him back to his original form."
"Well, that's very romantic, but I still say that there's no point in it," Cavil groused.
"Wait a minute," Gaeta said, "if the orcs are all male, then how-"
"Stop!" Baltar demanded. "We are not discussing the mechanics of orc sex right now, all right? There is a bar fight to attend to that I've very carefully planned out, and would you all mind getting back to the gratuitous violence so we can continue on with the campaign?"
"Fine," Ellen sniffed. "But my elf mage still swoons."
Tigh rolled his eyes.
"I'm really not sure how we're going to get out of this one," Cavil mused.
"I'm still praying," Cottle said, sitting back and closing his eyes.
"I'm out of ideas," Billy said. "And somehow, I doubt a rock is going to take out these guys."
"I'm down," Gaeta sighed. "You guys might get out of this, but I'm not. That evil cleric is coming right at me."
"Yes," Baltar said slowly, "but…" he rolled the dice and smiled. "My warrior jumps in at the last minute and diverts the blade. I take eight points of damage, and the cleric takes twelve, killing him."
Gaeta's eyes lit up. "Thanks," he said softly, as if Baltar had jumped in front of him, instead of two fictional characters. Baltar smiled back.
"Enough with the googly eyes," Cavil snapped impatiently. "What's the outcome?"
Baltar smiled. "It seems your gods are listening, Doctor," he told Cottle. "Three of the clerics fall over dead."
Cottle grinned around his cigarette. "About time," he said, with immense satisfaction. "Now let's take out the last two."
They ended when the clock said it was two thirteen in the morning, and they all had to admit they needed sleep before the next shift. It was odd the way they broke apart, with Cottle heading back to sickbay, Ellen and Tigh to their quarters, Cavil off to wherever, and Billy half-helping a rather drunk Gaeta get back to the racks. It just wasn't something you spoke of outside the room, although none of them could put words to why.
But three nights later, they'd all be back again, and they all knew it.
I still don't understand the fascination, Six complained after they'd all left.
"You don't?' Gaius asked as he cleaned up the lab table. "You live in a fantasy. You of all people should understand better than anyone."
Well, I suppose that their pathetic lives require some sort of escape…
"It's more than that. It's that people can be what they're not. Lieutenant Gaeta, who fights all his battles from a computer console, can pretend that he's physically strong and a warrior. Billy Keikeya can be mysterious and exotic, not bumbling lad who can't speak to women. Doctor Cottle, who inevitably loses his patients, can believe that his Gods really do give a frak. Ellen Tigh can believe that love matters, and the Colonel can protest all he wants, but he can believe it, too."
And Gaius Baltar can be the brave warrior, throwing down his life to save a friend.
"Yes, well, you noticed that?" Baltar replied with a wry smile. "The stories we tell say a lot about us. They lay our hopes and dreams on the line in a way that makes us quite vulnerable, should anyone choose to read into it. The only one I can't figure out is Brother Cavil. There's nothing remarkable about his character, nothing extraordinary. He's simply a human ranger."
Six smiled. I'm sure you'll figure it out, sooner or later. It's just a matter of knowing the full story.