Disclaimer: I don't own nuffin'.

Spoilers: None really. Just stuff concerning Zak Adama.

Warnings: Rated R for a Reason. Emotionally damaged Starbuck, use of the word "frak", drunkenness, violence, sex.
Although the sex isn't explicit enough to be rated NC-17, it's still bad. So, if you don't want to read sex, don't read, and if you do read, spiffy!

Notes: I wrote this because I've been wondering at what's really up between Tigh and Starbuck. They seem to hate each other and because everywhere I look, I see sex, this fic idea was born. I also believe Kara's gotta have some heavy emotional damage after Zak's death so I apologize if you see her portrayed as too angsty and stuff.
By the way, this fic was somewhat inspired by the short fic Penance by kate98, which I recommend if you want a short read with Kara angst.
And thanks to Brock for sitting through this fic to beta-read it even though he hates the new BSG. ;p Buddy; you don't know what you're missing out on.


I walk down the corridors of Galactica, chewing on my lip as I lose myself in thought. My injured leg sends sharp needles of pain to run up my nerves and dance like fire there, protesting abuse in that age-old tradition. I ignore it and tell my nerves to frak off. I know I shouldn't be pushing myself so hard – stressing my newly healed leg could injure it again, maybe even worse this time – but his knowing little smirk haunts me and makes me burn with the need to prove him wrong. I can still hear his words. They echo in my head tauntingly and only continue to fuel my anger, the anger that keeps me walking despite the pain.

I really don't care what you think, lieutenant. All I know is that every day you spend in that bed is another day that I have my opinion of you confirmed.

"That frakking drunk…" I growl to no one in particular.

Colonel Tigh and I; we've always clashed, or so it seems. I could never quite pin down the exact reason. Maybe it was initially because the old man had a soft spot for me because of Zak. Tigh's the type who can't tolerate any form of favoritism. Or maybe it has to do with the eternal war that rages between the old generations and the new. Whatever it is, we started out on the wrong foot and have never found a time when our paces seem to match.

I'm alone in my bunk room now and I open my locker and touch the picture of Zak, Lee and I. I remember the days after Zak's death. My first days on the Galactica. My first encounters with Tigh.

Maybe it's because…

No, no. Frak that.

I push that memory away and search for something else. I remember with pleasure the one time I got to tell him exactly what I think of him. Even sweeter still is the memory when I got to show him the contempt I hold for him. I can still feel that wonderful sensation on my knuckles of where my fist connected with his jaw. That moment is still fresh in my mind and I think it will always be. After all, the pleasant memories are the ones that tend to stick. I smile, relaxing back on my bunk as I remember…

It had started innocently enough; a simple card game and friendly banter all around. I was leaning back in my chair and studying the cards in my hand while across the table Colonel Tigh was giving me that look of his; the one where his eyes squinted suspiciously and his lips curved in that slight, mocking smile he has perfected so well. Around the table Helo and Boomer were joking, trying to lighten the obviously dark mood that was developing as Tigh and I traded barbs. Everyone in the room knew what was coming; they just didn't know how it was going to get there.

I knew I was treading on dangerous ground when I asked about his wife. Experience had taught me that it was a tender subject but I wanted to bait him, try to get him to give me an excuse to hit him. It reminds me of that saying… what is it? "Let sleeping dogs lie"? Well, I've never been one to listen to good advice and this time was no exception.

Sitting across that table from him as he stared at me with that knowing look, it was infuriating. From that short distance, I could smell the whiskey on his breath-

warm breath on my skin

and I felt scorn erupt inside of me, its strong tendrils burning-

flesh burning with the fire of enraptured senses

through my mind until I wanted nothing more then to reach over-

I reach over and pull him close, reveling in the unleashed ecstasy of this madness

and choke him until he's begging for me to stop, begging-

and I'm begging for it, begging for release, begging until I no longer care about the fact that I am begging in front of him, begging for him

and I'm the one choking as I find myself being pulled back through the darkness, back through my two years on Galactica, back to those painful days after Zak's death. The memory reaches out with an icy hand to drag me down into its cold embrace. I've been pushing it down for so long and even now I fight it, but here in the half-awake, half-asleep half-life that is the mind when sleep begins its numbing magic, I have no control. A chilling feeling descends on my gut as I realize that there is no escaping it this time and I'm forced to return and relive it, but worst of all, remember

I close the door behind me as I enter the neglected storage room. In my hand is a bottle of my favorite intoxicant and I'm determined to drink it all as I have no one to share it with. I've been on the Galactica for nearly a month and I'm tired of acting like there's nothing wrong. Although the company is great and everyone treats me well and I have no complaints, I still have enough of a reason to stash away and drink myself into a stupor. The reason is Zak, of course, and all that baggage that I now carry because of his death.

It's been a while but I'm still getting over it. Getting over him. Losing someone you love, someone you are willing to spend the rest of your life with… it hits you deep in ways that you never knew were possible before. The aftermath of such an event is like having your soul cut open and vivisected in front of you and there's nothing you can do to stop it but just scream and scream and hope someone can hear you.

Every time Commander Adama looks at me, I want to throw myself out of the nearest airlock. He thinks nothing but good of me and I'm the reason his son is dead. I don't think I'll ever be able to tell him. How could I? How could I tell him that because I didn't want to disappoint Zak, because I didn't want Zak to disappoint him, I sent his son to his death? That I let my emotions cloud my judgment and it cost Zak his life? Yeah, I could never do that. If the old man found out… gods, I could never look him in the eye again.

Almost worse than that is the thought of Lee finding out. We used to be close. I still have the picture taken of us three when he, Zak, another friend and I went hiking in the mountains on Caprica. We three would do everything together. I loved them so much and yet equally: Zak as a lover and Lee as a brother. After the accident though, he stopped talking to me. I don't think it was because he hated me. I think it's because every time he looked at me, he could only be reminded of Zak, something I struggled with myself. I had trouble looking at myself in the mirror for a while after I was told he was dead. I kept expecting to see him sneaking up on me to wrap his arms around my waist and tuck his chin on my shoulder as he met my eyes in the mirror and asked me the ever-unanswerable question, "What'cha thinkin'?"

Yeah. I've got reason enough for this.

So, here I am in the process of getting thoroughly and utterly frakked when, to my great surprise, Colonel Tigh opens the door and enters the room. "Colonel." The word slurs as it leaves my lips and I barely look up from my slumped position to acknowledge his presence. The evidence of my drunken state is something not even a blind man could miss and I don't even try to defend myself as I mentally brace for a well deserved reprimand.

Instead, he sits down on a nearby box and asks, "Mind if I join you?" Surprise registers in my addled brain and I can only nod in response. Content with this answer, the older man pulls a flask from somewhere inside his uniform and takes a small swig from it. He turns his gaze on me and asks, "What do you got there?"

It takes me a moment to realize he's asking about the bottle I'm holding in my hand. "Whiskey," I reply and, after a moment's hesitation, offer it to him. Hell, if I'm going to get in trouble, why not go all the way?

He takes it from me wordlessly, again surprising me, and he sniffs at the contents before taking a long pull from the container. He hands it back to me after he sucks a long, deep breath to clear the alcohol's vapors from his lungs. "Woo! Good stuff, pilot."

"Thanks," I say and start to reassess my opinion of the man. If he was willing to take a drink with me, he couldn't be nearly as bad as the scuttlebutt I heard made him out to be. I had talked to him only once before, earlier this week, and although he had seemed callous at the time, so did Adama when he was on duty. Officers in their off duty hours were always different. I mean, sure; when I did talk to him, it was more of a one-sided confrontation as he lectured me on various things that he believed I had frakked up on, so I didn't get much of a chance to really talk to the man and he had seemed pretty pissed off with me. You could say we got off on the wrong foot but now it seems like he isn't holding a grudge about it.

"Starbuck's your call-sign, right?" I nod. "Thought so. The old man's had some good things to say about you." Before this comment goes to my head, he quickly adds, "You're a major frak-up though. Who taught you to pilot?" I don't rise to the bait; instead I opt to occupy my mouth with the bottle as I decide that yeah, the other pilots are right. The man is a bastard.

He sits back and studies me for a moment before speaking again. "Tell me: what brings you here to my little retreat?"

"Your retreat? I didn't notice a name on it… sir." I add on the honorific as an afterthought and he notices this insult and returns it with a question meant to cut.

"You still moping around about Zak?"

At this, I turn and study his face. For a moment, I can't figure out how he knows about my involvement with Zak but then I remember that he is Commander Adama's second in-command and I mentally curse the alcohol that's befuddled my brain. I return to his question and, although I want to deny the fact, I answer truthfully instead and taste with defeat the bitter words as I speak them, "Yeah, we were engaged." My heart aches at the past-tense of the statement but I tell it to go frak itself. The truth always hurts, there's no avoiding that, but the sooner I deal with it, the faster the pain will dull. Of course, I know it will never go away but that's why the Lords saw fit to bless us with alcohol.

"Marriage is overrated," he mutters and takes a long swig from his flask then puts it to the side after he has drained it of all its contents.

"Your wife giving you trouble?"

Tigh's eyes flash as he looks up at me, fixing me with a glare that could have sliced me in two had it been a tangible force. He picks up my bottle to take another drink from it. "Never mention my wife again," he says with a growl.

We sit in silence for a time, passing the bottle back and forth until it is drained dry and we only have each other remaining for company. Then we start speaking again; speaking of the Galactica's pilots, of her Commander, of the President, of the Colonies lost to us, of the Cylons. Whatever comes to mind is the first thing to trip off our alcohol-loosened tongues and, as is always the case of intoxicated men and women, we find ourselves slowly drawing closer and taking pleasure in each other's company in ways we would have never considered had we been sober.

His face is close to my own, his warm breath on my skin is playing across my flesh as it follows the patterns of his speech, intoxicating me in the only way alcohol never can. I feel an old, familiar beast rise within me, its insatiable thirst crying out to be slaked with the touch of another. In desperate times, a lonely soul will reach out for any comfort that is offered. We are both desperate and in an unspoken acknowledgement of our individual suffering, neither one of us protests what begins between us.

I recognize what's going to happen and try to justify it to myself, explain it away to make myself feel better. I don't feel desire for Tigh. I don't want him as I wanted Zak when he had been alive. I need him for pure tactile contact. His body is merely a vessel with which I can assure myself that I am not the only one left in the world who suffers. Anyone else can fulfill that role. This will mean nothing. It could be anyone else here. It is only chance that Tigh is the one who is here with me now.

Or is it?

Out of all the men on the Galactica, I know Tigh doesn't like me. I am insubordinate, disrespectful and represent everything that pisses him off about the younger generation. Out of all the men on the Galactica, I know Tigh won't treat me to a good time. I know I am going to come out of this with bruises, but the little place inside of me that grieves for Zak and is brimming over with self-loathing doesn't care. In fact, it welcomes Tigh with open arms.

His words cease suddenly as his hands ghost down the exposed skin of my arms and I can smell the alcohol on his breath. It is a sour, cloying smell that I know pervades my own and the thought of my drunken state sickens me. Pushing that thought away, my own hands move and clumsy fingers begin to fumble with the buttons of his uniform. I look up into his eyes and see something indescribable there and my gaze quickly shifts down to focus once more on the difficult buttons that refuse to acknowledge my manipulation. The look in his eyes, although impossible to put into words, is so far removed from love that to see it in the eyes of a man I am about to have sex with makes me feel cheap and dirty.

Deep in the back of my mind, the part of me that is disgusted by this whole affair wonders vaguely if he will try to kiss me. I don't think I could handle that. Strange. I am about to have sex with the man, but I can't stand the thought of kissing him. Perhaps it's kissing is a sign of affection, of love, and I certainly don't feel either for Tigh and never will.

His hands grab my own in a tight grip and I feel my flesh burning with the fire of enraptured senses. I haven't allowed myself such physical contact since Zak's death and god, have I missed it. Tigh moves my hands away from his chest and after releasing them, begins working on the buttons himself. By the coordination in his fingers, I can tell that he is not nearly as frakked up as I am and, in a way, I envy him that. I try to stop thinking as I begin mechanically doffing myself of clothes and we don't touch each other for a while in an agreement reached without words.

When we finally stand, stripped of every piece of cloth, neither one of us moves. I look at him, he looks at me, and the only sounds to be heard is the pounding of my heart and the perpetual low hum that is the heart of Galactica. For some indescribable reason, I want to hear that mechanical heart echo the rhythm of my own. I want to feel in tune with the Galactica, as though being so would stop my lonely heart from being so empty. My body is empty too, and exposed, burning with an inner fire and I need him but he's just standing there, seeming unwilling to make the first move as though he's still offering me a chance to back out if I don't want to go through with this lunacy.

I almost do. In a moment of clarity, I realize that what is happening is completely insane and I have to leave. But then I see him lift up his right hand in a barely imperceptible gesture (or am I imagining it?), almost in a silent plea, and I give up. I couldn't deny myself this even if I wanted to and so I reach over and pull him close, reveling in the unleashed ecstasy of this madness.

Now free from mental restraint, his hands come up and wrap me in a tight, crushing embrace. I feel his teeth rake my shoulder and my knees nearly give out from the sensation. Lords, have I been crazy to deny myself this? I mentally cry out as my hands tighten their grip on his shoulder blades and my nails begin to dig into his flesh. I feel an involuntary whimper emerge from my throat and this seems to send any reason he has left out the airlock.

Before I know it, I'm on my back on the cool metal of the floor and he's over me, his mouth ravishing one of my breasts while he grips the other painfully with his large hand. My mouth parts and I squirm from the physical assault, letting out a sharp, quiet cry when his teeth drag over my sensitive nipple. I can feel blood beginning to well up beneath my fingernails and I realize that I'm going to have to try to relax or else I'm going to leave scars all over his back. Gods, relax! How can I relax when he's touching me like that?

His mouth leaves my breast and I shudder as I feel teeth nipping their way down my chest, over my stomach, down my side until the teeth disappear and I can feel him breathing right there. I begin shivering in anticipation. Part of my mind is revolting from the idea of him putting his mouth there but the other part, the part too far gone in self-loathing and alcohol, wants it so bad that I know I won't protest the invasion but rather gratefully welcome it.

"Kara." Hearing him use my name makes me flinch. It sounds so foul coming from his lips but I can't help but moan in response to way his thick, gravelly voice rumbles it.

Lords, how I hate myself.

"Kara." He says it again and again, I betray myself as my body flushes with arousal. He speaks, "Beg me for it."

I don't want to. I know his kind. He seeks to dominate, to degrade, to beat his partners' minds until they won't fight him anymore. I can't give in to his demands. I'm stronger than that. I can withstand him. I won't submit to his moist breath on the inside of my thighs, his fingers rubbing enticingly over my belly and sides. I can-

and I'm begging for it, begging for release, begging until I no longer care about the fact that I am begging in front of him, begging for him-

and stars are exploding before my eyes and I have lost myself. I'm aware of pain (fingers digging into my hips?) but that soon becomes lost as well. Everything's spinning and I can only focus on the one point of sensation, the stimulation my body's been screaming for since Zak, Zak-

and he's over me, his body crushing mine as we're joined in the oldest way, our bodies falling into the primal rhythm that exists within us all. My eyes squeeze shut to block out his face but the body still remains, moving above me, against me, inside of me-

and I'm clutching him close now as that self-loathing part of me whispers to him, urging him on with a word that's vulgar and crude, that makes me want to die from shame because it makes me feel like a common whore but I've always known that that part of me existed, just waiting to be released, waiting for, oh gods, release-

and his back is slick with blood, red gore that drips onto my stomach and flecks my face and I want it to be my blood, I want him to make me bleed, I want to have scars from this, scars that I can look at and touch and remember Zak, remember how I can never have that again, remember everything-

and it feels so good, he feels so good, so horribly good and I'm dying on the inside as I desperately ask myself how something so wrong can feel so right because I know it's not right (right was Zak, wasn't it?) but I don't know anymore because I'm so confused and it's hard to think and everything's so dark-

and it's bright now as I open my eyes and stare at his face, his closed eyes, and my hand, my bloody fingers touch his cheek in something, some emotion (what?), and they snap open and he stares back at me as he keeps moving and its there in his eyes again, that emotion, that elusive something that I can't put my finger on but instead of scaring me like before, now it draws me in and I can't fight it as I sink into those dark depths, drowning in the inky pools-

and he's coming, his head is thrown back and he's whispering a name (Ellen?) but I don't know it, it's not me (his wife?) and he's not Zak… Zak! What am I doing? I'm sorry! Oh god, I'm so-

and he shoves me away, viciously spitting expletives and hissing like a wild animal in a fit of rage. I'm dazed and I can't react fast enough to distance myself from him and suddenly his fist is buried in my gut and I'm coughing from the impact. Another fist comes flying out of nowhere and cracks into my face and I can feel my lip split and taste blood in my mouth from where the inside of my cheek cut against my teeth. Again: a fist in my gut. Again: a fist in my side. Again: a fist to my face. Again. Again. Again and I finally cry out in pain. He stops and stares and I can't recognize the emotion that is in his eyes and tears are pouring down my cheeks and I have lost control. I reach out with a grasping hand from where I lay and beg him with the word (harder! harder! hit me harder, you frakking bastard!) as I cough and choke on the blood that's clogging my throat and dripping from my lips and mingling with my tears on the cold metal floor and again, I see that look in his eyes but now I recognize it for what is.


I wake up, bolting upright in my bunk, sweat dripping down my face as my heart pounds out a wild, staccato beat in my chest. I look around frantically to make sure that I am alone, that for some Lords damned reason he didn't decide to drop in on me like he did in sick bay. Finding myself the only one in the room, I let out a small sob and sit on my bunk with my back against the wall and my knees drawn up against my chest. I stay like that for a time, focusing on the screaming pain in my injured knee and blocking everything else out.

No one on the Galactica saw me after that encounter. Tigh had helped me get off the battlestar without anyone having to see my bruised and beaten face and had filed papers that gave me two weeks of shore leave. Two weeks in which to wallow in shame and self-pity. Two weeks in which to heal.

Such wounds never heal though and I have never told a soul, or wanted to tell one, about what happened that day. Some things are better left buried.

As to Tigh and I; we never talk about it. I still see it in his eyes though, watching me from behind that sometimes calm, sometimes angry, but always controlled mask. For a while after I came back from shore leave, I would wake up from a nap with the feeling of eyes watching me and when I'd look up, he was standing there in the hatchway, his black eyes drinking me in. I knew he wanted to come inside, cross the threshold, cross that line and take me again, wrap me around his little finger until I reached a breaking point. He still does. I don't let him phase me though and any time I see him looking at me with that dark gaze, I just glare at him and snap out some quick remark to annoy him.

I feel those eyes on me now and I look up with wide eyes, for once the fear breaking through my façade. Gods, don't let him see me like this. I don't know if I could deny him this time…

But when I look up, I see Lee standing in the room, silently watching me. The sight of his concerned face almost makes me break down and, suddenly, I want to tell him. I want to let it all pour out. I want to cry on his shoulder and I want him to comfort me and rub my back and tell me that it's all going to be okay. I want to tell him what he's come to mean to me and that I'm sorry, oh god, am I sorry…

I don't even notice as he sits on the bunk beside me and wordlessly puts his arms around me. I just collapse into him, clinging to him like a rock in the storm. We don't speak: we just sit there, holding each other in silence, content with the touch of another as we share the pain of loss and I feel safe because with him, I can let go of everything. He knows my demons and I know he won't give me that look I dread. Love, hate, anger, concern, pity, sympathy; all that and more I can take when I look into his face but disgust…

The day that I see disgust darkening his eyes, I will know I have crossed that fine line and I will no longer be Starbuck or Kara Thrace or even human. I will have become something less than human and I pray that the Lords of Kobol take my soul before that day comes because I don't think I could live after seeing that look in his eyes.