Set: Scar, spoilers.
Character: Kara Thrace, with references to Ripper, Adama and Lee.
Notes: er. Angsty little thingie, possibly a bit wanky, in some respects.
Disclaimer: not mine. Rating: eh. 13. ish.

Stood there too long
by ALC Punk!

It's almost too-cold in the pilots' ready room, but the alcohol pulsing through her veins is pushing the cold away. On the screen, light flickers, catches her eye and Kara follows the movement of Scar. It turns and weaves, using the sunlight and asteroids to its advantage before ruthlessly destroying the viper trying to kill it.

Effortlessly, almost, it slips away before the other has a chance to even tag it.

The bottle tips up as the image loops back to the beginning and starts up again. It's an excercise in futility. As if burning the images into her brain will save the pilot, this time through. As if by some act of the Gods, Kara could reach through time and stop this before it starts.

If asked, she'll claim she has no idea which pilot is getting his ass blown into smithereens.

And it's a lie. Kara knows all of their names.

Kara remembers lying to Lee. Telling him she couldn't remember their names. All while she was drinking to forget, drinking to purge their faces and call signs from her mind. It hasn't worked, of course. She'd trained half of them, flown with the other half for two years.

Ripper. Gods, Ripper had put up with her crap without being obnoxious about it from day one.

That day in the brig still seems so far away. And normal.


She looked up at him, disinterested. "Sir."

A snort, and he shook his head. "I was going to ask why you do it, but I know. You're a pilot."

"Oh, frak you. Sir."

Ripper shook his head. "You're such an ass."

"Takes one to know one." She didn't tack on the 'sir'. It seemed pointless.

"One day, Starbuck, this is gonna bite you in the ass. I just hope I'm there to see it."

He wasn't, of course.

Instead he was dead, hanging somewhere in space without a proper burial and only mourned in passing.

He hadn't wanted her aboard. Not in his squadron. Until he'd seen her fly. And even then, it had been grudging acceptance. Hard to object to the Old Man's favorite pilot, after all. Harder to object when she was just so damned good.

Even if she did cause more trouble than ten drunk engineers on leave.

And then, of course she'd frakked him. Not when it would have mattered, but later when it didn't. When she was drunk and full of flying and laughing hysterically at something. Two doors down from his office, he made Starbuck orgasm. It made him smug for two seconds and then she was laughing again and it was his turn.

It never happened again. Kara never told him it was because he was a mediocre frak, though the word got round.

But he didn't care. He had a girlfriend that he went on leave to see, two kids running around on Picon, and an ex-wife on Sagitarron. He could handle a little sexual mockery. And he could handle Starbuck's inability to commit by making her work to keep her place on the squad.

Ripper'd talked her out of more charges while on leave than any of the other pilots combined. That's what a good CAG was for, after all -- to keep his pilot's noses clean and bust them down when they were idiots.

He occasionally shared his observations of his pilots with the commander. The Old Man liked hearing about the people who worked under him. Especially when it came to Starbuck. As if he had a perverse need to know just how bad she'd been, even as he accepted it and moved on.

"My assessment is she'll never make higher than Lieutenant. Neither will half of them, though. And it's not a bad thing. They're the kind of people you need as pilots."

"All crazy."


Adama nodded, then offered him another drink. "And Starbuck's lack of tact?"

"I don't think she'll grow out of it."

It seemed the commander agreed, given the proud look in his eyes. Ripper let it pass, it wasn't his place to ask the Commander why he was so close with one of his pilots.

Just like it wasn't his place to comment on the XO's alcoholism (or on the XO's wife, who didn't frak as enthusiastically as Starbuck, but who also didn't seem to mind a little sweet-talk).

They moved on from Starbuck to other things: the decommissioning, the commander's decision to retire, even touched carefully on his estranged son. Ripper said he'd be glad to have young Captain Adama fly with them for the ceremony. Then he set his half-finished drink down carefully, and saluted the man who'd been one of the best commanders the fleet had had.

"An honor serving with you, sir."

"The honor's all mine." The commander returned the salute.

Walking away, Ripper wondered what the world had come to if they were turning battlestars into museums.

The admiralty weren't all that bright.

And when Starbuck sat in the brig and listened to the reports of Galactica's vipers being destroyed without so much as a single shot being fired, she allowed herself five seconds to mourn them. Pilots she'd frakked with, played with, fought with, drunk with. All gone in thirty seconds.

For five seconds she could feel the pain rip through her. Then she slammed the door on it, locked it down and got angry. Angry at the cylons, angry at Tigh, angry at the marines for locking her here in the brig.

Now, she watches Scar, watches the raider jig and turn, out-flying pilot after pilot. Death after death. Her fault. Her responsibility to turn out perfect pilots. Only she'd failed. She couldn't train them well enough and now they're dead. It's why she keeps hiding behind rules when talking to Kat. Scurrying under a rulebook and being impersonal didn't allow her to care. She can't afford to care.

It's easier to pretend she doesn't care and can't remember.