Title: Almost Rhymes With Orange
Fandom: Battlestar Galactica
Word count: 2064
Notes: I was a little nervous about writing quite so much Lee, as I'm not nearly as comfortable with his character as I am with Kara's, but it was interesting to play around in the sandpit of his psyche for a while. I wrote the fic using the McSweeney's fic meme, which involves using list titles from their website as prompts. Every section heading, and the title, I took from that site. I didn't make them up. Not even the one about robots.
Almost Rhymes With Orange
1. Inefficient Units of Currency
If Helo rolls his eyes any harder he’ll look epileptic.
(Uncharitable, but the thought sticks to the roof of your consciousness like peanut butter and gods, you’re so frakking sick of peanut butter, but it’s the only thing left.)
“Starbuck would like me to inform you,” he drawls, “that she is not speaking to you and will quite possibly never speak to you again and you’re a frakking arrogant asshole and will you please remember that you’re meant to be meeting her in the gym at sixteen hundred hours.”
“Tell her to carry her own messages,” you say, and hypocrisy tastes like the honey that Galactica ran out of months ago.
“Hey, I know when to keep my mouth shut around her and just nod,” he says, and laughs.
You try to remember when you last heard Karl Agathon laugh. You try to remember when you last laughed. You’re about to formulate a grand and tragic generalisation (so unlike you) when you pass the rec room and hear someone laughing, not even having the decency to make it cynical, bright muffled giggles dissolving the metaphor away.
Your hand curls into a fist and your voice is very steady as you ask Karl where she is. You need something safe to punch.
2. Geometric Relationships More Realistic Than the Love Triangle
Dee presses a cup of coffee into your hands whilst you’re looking at the pictures stuck up in the hall, your eyes idly finding the holes where people have taken photos down in mute surrender of hope. Mourning becomes a private affair, eventually.
“Hey, you.” She gives a flicker of a smile and leans against your side.
“Hey.” You sip at the coffee. You started hating coffee three weeks ago.
She doesn’t say anything more for a long time and you’re grateful, grateful for the tired warmth of her against your arm and the lack of expectations. You find yourself relaxing for the first time in days, so it’s a little bit of a shock when you glance down at her and find tears on her face.
“I’m sorry,” she says, sounding on the verge of breaking, so you wrap an arm around her and she breathes in, out, in, out, finding the neutrality again. You’re both so good at that.
“Billy?” and you’re very careful, nothing but sympathy in your tone.
“He’s dead,” she says into your shirt.
And you’re alive dangles in the air, but she’s always assumed that you won’t hear the things she doesn’t say.
3. Seven Habits of Highly Successful People
“Captain?” Daze is at your elbow. “The Chief says to tell you that he’s finished rewiring the screens of your Viper.”
“Thank you,” you say, giving her a nod and a touch on the hand because she was close to Gypsy and her flying’s been a little off since the other girl died.
You go to CIC to give Tigh your bundle of reports and stay a little longer than duty requires, catching up on the latest talk both official and unofficial.
You meet the Chief on the flight deck and check the adjustments to your bird. Then you check them again.
You stick your head into the rec room and ask Racetrack to see Cally about some of the figures in her Raptor’s maintenance logs, which don’t quite add up.
“Triad, Apollo?” Helo kicks out a chair.
“Not right now. I think I drank a little too much of that imitation juice with lunch.” You tap your fingers against the hatchway and smile with just the right amount of apologetic urgency, and then make your way (unhurried) to the head.
When the cubicle door shuts behind you your hands start shaking and you lean against the wall, forcing air past the blockage in your throat. Gypsy’s death was stupid, stupid, stupid, a frakking combination of bad luck and bad timing and you shouldn’t have left her on her own, but Hotdog’s thrusters were playing up and he needed –
You give yourself five minutes, and then you straighten your uniform jacket and splash water onto your face and go to write up the new rosters.
4. Memories from My Youth Involving My Best Friend
Kara doesn’t quite cry out but she gives a stilted gasp as she comes, arching forward into you. You’ll have bruised shoulders and a sore back, come tomorrow, but the thought never crosses your mind that it might not be worth it.
“Oh, I needed that,” she murmurs as you set her down, and from the tone of her voice she could be talking about a glass of ambrosia.
“Mmm,” you agree, not quite up to forming words just yet.
“I’m still not talking to you, Lee,” she says, pulling on her tanks.
Enough oxygen has reached your lungs that you can speak again. “Really?” You meet her gaze and raise your eyebrows. “So this was…”
Her smile has no humour in it. “I didn’t hear anything resembling conversation.”
You grab her wrist and pull her in again, brushing back her hair with your fingertips, fighting the crushing urge to tell her (order her) to stay. There are rules.
They’re her rules.
“Kara, we have to talk about this sooner or later.”
“No,” she snaps, and jerks her hand away as though she’s touching white-hot shrapnel. “No, we frakking well don’t, Lee Adama.”
You scramble for the words to make this better, but you’re angry and you’re tired and you want to hit her in the face and you’re thinking that she looks so beautiful, standing there with one side of her hair in tangles and red marks on her neck that would fit your fingers perfectly, if you could dare yourself to touch her again.
“Grow up,” she whispers, and then she’s gone.
5. Of Presidents and Devils
“It’s good to see you, Captain,” and Roslin’s smile is very warm but you can see the fatigue streaking it, her face dancing with dimly grotesque lines of stress and lost ideals.
“Yes, Captain,” Baltar echoes unnecessarily, and his smile is as unnerving as ever.
You nod, murmur something polite, and lower yourself into a chair. “What would you like to talk to me about, Madam President?”
“My goodness, so formal,” she says in a small voice, but you don’t trust it. Her hands worry at the material of her skirt in a gesture that means she’s about to ask you to do something she wouldn’t do herself. “I regret that we haven’t been able to talk more, that I am only calling you here with a request –”
“You know you can count on me,” you say, to take the pressure off her, but something must be showing in your face because she colours slightly. Her chin is firm, but the light glinting off her glasses is tinted with blue regret.
“This is a time for difficult decisions,” she says, looking away and just missing the faint smirk that appears on Baltar’s face.
You liked her better when she was a teacher playing at politics. When neither of you quite knew what you were doing.
You put your hand on her arm and smile, smile, smile.
6. Some Things I Have Done to Disgrace My Family Name
You dance back and forth on the balls of your feet and lift your hands up, the gloves covering the bottom half of your face so that your father won’t see your frown. He’s slower than he was; not by much, but by enough. He’s breathing a little harder.
“You’re favouring your right side,” he says abruptly.
“I have this small bullet wound,” you say, and let the grin appear above your gloves.
He grunts. “Sure you want to be doing this?”
“The CAG can’t be seen slacking off.” You let your shoulders roll back and swing your elbows, loosening the joints.
He frowns at the floor for a moment and then lifts his hands, unreadable as ever. “You’re setting a good example, Lee,” he says abruptly. “You’re an excellent CAG. I’m prouder of you every day.”
Your breath catches in your throat, and you’re thinking about the President’s request, and you’re trying to find a way to say thank you without sounding like an utter girl when his fist connects with your jaw.
7. First Lines to Books I Won't Write
If you’d just
I’m sorry that
Letters are composed in your head, never on paper. Every scrap of it is recycled these days, and you never know who might read something.
Besides: it seems like a waste.
8. Unspoken Afterthoughts to Childhood Catch Phrases
You’ve never liked pyramid, but there is something almost soothing about the feel of the ball’s stitching between your palms and the slow thumping rhythm as you throw it against the bottom of the rack above you.
You’ve been thinking about your mother. It’s not something you do often. Your memories are a tainted swirl of the recent and not-so-recent past, her face always hidden behind a black funereal veil and her voice always bright and warm and holding you close, telling you to never leave holes of regret in your life and to always finish what you begin.
Time was reset the day the world ended. You don’t have a drawer or even a pocket for your regrets, and you can feel them eating acid-slow through your heart, which is the only storage place that remains secure.
“Apollo?” Kat’s voice bounces off the hard spaces of the officer’s quarters. “You awake? Pre-CAP in ten.”
“On my way.”
You make sure to put the ball back on Kara’s rack. It’s a start, even if you’re not sure where the finish line is.
9. Scary Moments in Human/Robot Relations in Non-chronological Order
“Didn’t think I’d see you here, Apollo,” she says, staring very carefully at her hands.
You look at her, at the curve of her collarbone and the impossible shadows around her eyes. You run your tongue over your lip; half a nervous twitch and half an attempt to wipe away the sentences wavering there – the unarticulated memories of Sharon Valerii. The way her laugh shook when she was drunk and her hands shook on the landing gears as she flashed her lights (flashed her eyes) and worried that Galen Tyrol would frown at her for leaving scratches across his polished surfaces.
“Didn’t think I’d come.”
10. What God Does in Her Spare Time
“What are you doing?”
She freezes for a moment, and then her eyes dart to the side in the familiar mannerism that means she’s decided to bluff it out.
“Getting in touch with my inner child.”
“Gods, Kara.” You smile and sit down next to her. “What is that, a children’s paint set? Where’d you find that?”
“You can get almost anything if you know who to ask, and you’ve got enough booze.” Her voice is tight, impatient, but when she turns around her brush darts out and there’s a cool tickling sensation down your cheek.
“Juvenile, Thrace.” You wipe it with the back of your hand and laugh.
“That’s the whole point, Adama.”
You’re about to come back with something snappy when your eyes fall onto the paper – just the back of an old printout – that she’s using as a canvas.
“Kara, this is…”
“Yeah, well.” She frowns at it and starts dabbing green down one edge. “My inner child’s a talented little bitch, isn’t she?”
There’s an overtone of quotation in her voice that makes you uneasy, but her knuckles are white where they’re clutching the thin, ridiculous brush, and you’re not going to call her on it.
“I didn’t know you painted,” you say instead, and then wish you hadn’t because it’s such a frakking obvious thing to say. You resigned yourself to not knowing everything about Kara Thrace almost as soon as you met her.
She doesn’t lash out, though, just gives you a brief look and then swirls her brush in the red paint. “I don’t advertise the fact, no.”
“Do you want me to leave?”
Her shoulders move in something that could be a shrug. It’s different when it’s you, she doesn’t say, but there’s a challenge in her eyes that lets you know she expects you to hear it anyway.