Word count: 1,639
Characters: Helo, Sue-Shaun, Anders
Spoilers: through ep 2.04
Summary: Ain't nothin' like a little moonshine to lubricate a conversation…
Disclaimer: BSG isn't mine, but Ron Moore did say we could play in his sandbox.
Author's notes: A friend was bemoaning the appalling lack of Anders fic, specifically Helo and Anders fic (not necessarily Helo/Anders), and wanted to see something in which the boys did a little male bonding. You know, getting drunk. This is the tale that I came up with. Thanks to Jeff and Lee for beta reading without complaint.
"Mind if I join you?"
Helo looked up from the months-old copy of Pyramid Today he'd picked up from the school library to see Sue-Shaun, former co-captain of the Caprica Buccaneers and current second in command of the Caprican resistance. Or, at least, this particular cell of the Caprican resistance. Who knew how many other, similar, groups were scattered about the Caprican countryside?
Smiling at her, he gestured for her to sit across from him. There were plenty of other tables in the old cafeteria, most of them empty. She brought with her a couple of mismatched glasses and a large jug filled with a clear liquid that he suspected might be pretty damn potent. His smile widened into a grin. "Homemade?"
"Nastiest rotgut this side of Delphi," she confirmed. She sat, pulled the cork, and poured just enough of the homemade liquor to cover the bottom of a green glass, which she then pushed across the scarred wood table toward Helo. The clear glass with the cobalt blue base she filled just short of the brim. At the sight of Helo's raised brow she cocked her head and raised her glass in a salute. "Pretty boy like you ought to take it easy his first time."
Helo laughed for the first time in weeks. Rather than answering her challenge in so many words, he matched her salute and tossed back the entire contents of the glass. Even as the liquid burned like acid down his throat and he felt tears prick the backs of his eyes, he slammed his glass down on the table. "Hit me." His voice remained steady. No way he was going to let Sue-Shaun see any signs of discomfort.
With a delighted laugh of her own, she filled his glass with the wicked stuff. "You're all right, for a rocket jock."
"Not me. Kara's the rocket jock. I just keep my bird flying and make sure she and the other kids don't get into trouble."
Sue-Shaun snorted indelicately. "Yeah, right. You've got the same cocky swagger as your little girlfriend. Pilots, both of you."
"That's not a swagger; it's a limp." At the mention of his little girlfriend, Helo was blindsided by a flash of memory: Sharon, swaggering into the Ready Room aboard Galactica the day she'd gotten a public commendation from the Old Man for grace under pressure during war games. He downed half his glass in one swallow and this time didn't notice the burn. "I took some shrapnel over Caprica the day of the attack."
If she noticed his sudden turn from joking to serious, she didn't remark it, but she did follow suit. Frowning, she said, "I didn't think the military was able to fight back. I thought the Cylons knocked out all our defense systems within the first couple of minutes."
Helo took another swig, a moderate amount this time. It didn't seem quite so harsh. Either he was getting used to it or he'd just destroyed the lining to his throat and stomach. "They did. My co-pilot and I were far enough away from the pulse that our Raptor wasn't affected by it. Not like the Vipers." He relived it as the Mark VIIs suddenly began to drift, a full squadron, all electronic systems fried by two Cylon raiders. He could still hear Ripper's scream of rage over his headset, just before a Cylon missile had torn his Viper in two.
He hadn't realized that the silence had drawn out until he felt Sue-Shaun's warm hand cover his where it rested on the table. Focusing on those dark eyes surrounded by skin just as dark, Helo saw sympathy and what looked suspiciously like respect.
Having broken free of the painful memory, he saw that others had drifted over to their table, Sam Anders and Kara Thrace among them. Turning his hand under Sue-Shaun's, he gave her hand a squeeze before pulling his out from under and lifting his glass again with a rueful twist to his lips.
Kara looked at him with concern in her eyes; Anders stood right behind her, an unreadable expression on his face. It occurred to him that he must have looked really bad when they'd walked up, so he took another quick drink and grinned cheerfully. To alleviate Kara's apparent worry, he shot her a smirk and lifted the jug in invitation. "Grab yourself a glass, Viper girl."
The worried look cleared and her eyes narrowed as she sat down next to Sue-Shaun. "Nice jacket," Helo observed, taking in the black and gray C-Bucs jacket she wore over her tanks. He glanced at Anders as he pulled a chair up close, across from Kara, and was again reminded of the jocks in high school. Helo had been one of their number, but never one of them.
For the next several hours, the group of them talked and drank until they were all pleasantly buzzed. The group numbered anywhere from the four of them to almost a dozen, as others drifted in and out. The conversation had wandered over a wide variety of topics: the Cylons; what it had been like in the C-Bucs' training camp the day of the attack; the raid the previous week that had killed nearly half their resistance cell; as well as more pleasant topics like the game Kara had chosen to test Anders' and the make-shift still Sue-Shaun promised to show Helo in the morning. Maybe he'd take notes for the Chief's deck crew.
At one point, Sue-Shaun had leaned toward Helo, beckoning him closer as she observed Anders and Kara, and said, "If they aren't frakking yet, I'll bet you a thousand cubits they will be before the week's over."
Helo had taken one look at Kara, laughed out loud, and declined the bet.
That had been almost two hours ago. Not long after, Sue-Shaun had bid the group of a half dozen or so a good night, saying that she had to be up again at 0500 to take a turn around the perimeter. Helo had no doubt that the effects of the alcohol she had consumed would be gone well before then – she hadn't drunk that much, preferring to sip at the harsh stuff and listen to the others as they became more relaxed.
After Sue-Shaun's departure, everyone else, including Kara, had drifted away until Helo and Anders were the only ones left. Helo had a feeling that it was just the two of them for a reason.
Anders had matched him drink for drink over the course of the evening, but there wasn't a jock alive that could out-drink a Colonial pilot; Anders was bleary eyed and slurring his words more than a little. He listed a bit to the left as he began, "So. Helo."
Helo looked up from the water stain he had been tracing while he contemplated just how drunk he would have to be before he could sleep without dreaming of Sharon and toasters, and how much of Sue-Shaun's rotgut his body could handle before it killed him. At the look in Anders' semi-focused eyes, he decided that, either way, he wasn't nearly as drunk as he wanted to be.
"So. Anders." It occurred to him that he'd always wanted to get stupid drunk in the school cafeteria when he was a kid. What had never seemed appropriate then was just perfect now. He took a long drink of the biting liquor and waited for Anders to continue.
It didn't take as long as he'd thought it might. "You and Kara…" Anders' blue eyes slid away from Helo, toward a graffitied wall and its open doorway. The door had long since been torn from its hinges, probably used as part of a futile barricade against the Cylons. The man swallowed hard, his jaw working as he chewed on a question that he seemed to find pretty difficult.
Glass in hand, Helo leaned back in his plastic and metal chair. "Me and Kara?" He was enjoying the jock's discomfort too much to just let him off the hook, even though he was pretty damn sure what he was asking. Helo had seen the signs over the past couple of days just as Sue-Shaun apparently had, the little glances and seemingly accidental touches Anders and Kara had exchanged. He didn't know anything about Sam Anders that wasn't printed in either the sports rags or the tabloids, but he knew Kara. If the man wasn't careful, she'd eat him for breakfast.
"Are you two…?"
Helo grinned. "Are we what?"
"You're not going to make this easy, are you?"
"Nope." His grin widened as Anders leaned back in his own chair and gave him a not-so-friendly once-over, assessing the competition.
"Are you frakking her?"
Helo snorted. "Now what kind of a question is that? Kara'd kick your ass if she heard it." He took another swallow and thought that the clear liquid ought to be burning a path down his throat, but his lips were numb and he couldn't feel his throat anymore, probably not a good sign. "A better question would be is she frakking me."
"Not at the moment." Seeing the growing frustration in Anders' face, Helo relented. "Anders, man, Kara and I are friends. Have been for a lot of years. Have we ever frakked? None of your business. Are we together now? Nope."
Anders relaxed a little, which Helo also found amusing, and scrubbed a hand across his face. His expression a little more friendly, he looked over at Helo. "She always this prickly?"
Helo couldn't stop an explosion of laughter from escaping his abused throat. Oh, man, she is so going to eat you alive. "Why don't you grab yourself a pen and some paper and I'll give you a little classroom instruction about Kara Thrace."