Author's Note: This picks up IMMEDIATELY after Academy Days: The Burn ends…. Kara has stormed out of the club after verbally shooting Lee down….
Academy Days: Taking It Back
Just who the frak does he think he is!?
Slamming the release bar, the door exploded out and crashed into the front wall of the nightclub as she inhaled a breath of cold night air.
Listening to her boots click against the sidewalk as she turned the corner, the thought of going back to her digs was shoved aside to make way for an even better idea.
Reaching for and dropping open the bottom panel on her mobile vidder without breaking her pace, it took three buttons to page the only person who could help her salvage this night. Knowing whom she was pinging had her pressing a fourth button on her mobile: audio only. More than once she had caught an eyeful of something not even brain-bleach could scour from her memory.
"Come on, pick up!" She spoke into the air as beep after beep toned in her ear.
"What the frak could you be doing that is so important that you can't pick up your frakking vidder?" She growled at her friend's audacity.
Disconnecting and re-sending the signal, twelve pings later finally got her who she wanted.
"Grey? What the frak kept you?" Switching the vidder to her other hand, she listened to what was being said before doing the favour of interrupting. "What the hell is that I'm hearing in the background? You're getting a what? G-r-e-a-t. I knew there was a reason why I turned off the visual feed."
Her eyes rolled at the insinuation that streamed into her ear.
Tossing her head, she made sure that there was no room to misunderstand her meaning. "Frak that, Grey. I'm a headliner, not a guest star."
Nodding her head as more information was offered, a no-nonsense withering look spread across her face and into her voice, "Listen. If this person needs a 'stunt double', then they obviously aren't up to the audition. And what the hell are you doing with someone less than worthy on your casting couch?" Another pause had her groaning in blatant scepticism before ending with full-on scoffing. "Teaching; you're 'holding classes'? In what – method acting? That is so lame."
She counted out a few more seconds under her breath as she pretended to listen to what was being said on the other end of the line before cutting in again. "Don't 'but Kara' me, Grey. I don't care who it is and neither should you. A frak is a frak. If you carved a name next to every notch you have on your bedpost, you'd have those precious hand-loomed Aerilon sheets of yours stretched across a bed of sawdust instead of a set of mattresses. Dump their ass in a transport or leave them off at their place, but only if it's on the way to picking me up."
Stopping at the intersection but not directly underneath the overhead light, she pulled her mobile away from her mouth and looked at it as if she were looking at Grey before shaking her head and bringing the vidder back to the side of her face.
"Grey. Let me spell this out for you. My Asshole Alarm malfunctioned. I'm pissed, angry, dressed to kill, way too sober for my own good, and needing to party. Think about it. Who're you going to have more fun with – someone who's going to be bitching about rug burns and whisker-rash in twenty minutes or yours truly?"
A sly smile stretched her lips and slanted her eyes as she listened to Grey's decision.
"I always knew you were smarter than you frakked." Gauging her location she answered, "Take the first street after The Burn. I'm three blocks east after you make that turn."
Nodding in time to hearing her position being repeated in her ear, she said, "Okay, see you in ten."
Just about to clap her mobile closed, an afterthought had her yanking it back to her mouth and calling out to her friend one more time, "Oh, and Grey? Be prepared to keep up."
Sliding her vidder into her back pocket, she did a quick sweep of the area and blew out a frustrated breath. Just her luck; the one night she could use a perve or two to pound on, there wasn't one to be had. Great – on top of everything else – it was Perve Amnesty Night and no one bothered to tell her or send her a memo.
Kicking at a decent sized stone with her booted foot, she watched it roll irregularly across the pavement and into the outlying darkness. Why did Flyboy have to end up being such a jerk? Making that stupid bet with his stupid friends about getting with her when she had planned on taking him home the minute he locked those blue eyes on her when he caught her giving him that 'once over' from across the bar was the stupidest thing he could have done. And, the last thing she ever pegged him for was being stupid.
She didn't need her eyes open to pace. As much as she was disappointed in Flyboy, she was more pissed with herself because her Asshole Alarm never went off. Even when Flyboy was standing two feet – the breadth of the bar top – away from her, she thought she saw a little bit of herself in the way he carried himself and in the corner of his eyes. That was why she was on the verge of giving him her real name, something she never did with one-night stands. Adding insult to injury, she was even going to break her own rules and be there in the morning. Hell, she didn't even do that when she was in a relationship, let alone some guy who she just met and wanted to frak into oblivion.
Watching a transport pull up to the intersection, turn and move away from her, she made the effort to relax and redirect her thoughts. As far as she was concerned, Flyboy could go frak himself three ways to Canceran and back again and live to write a book about it. Thinking about what she and Grey were going to do until dawn perked her up considerably.
The only thing better than having mind-blowing sex was making a night out with friends become a Legendary Event.
bsg bsg bsg
Two days later…
Tugging her backpack higher onto her shoulder at the same time she was coming around the backside of the lecture hall, the last thing she expected to hear was her name being used by someone she didn't frakking know.
"Lieutenant K. Thrace, have you seen her?"
Ignoring the temptation to wince when the strap to her pack slid off her shoulder and dug into the crook of her elbow, she flattened herself against the side of the building and carefully peered around the corner.
Swearing softly to herself, she pulled back for a deep breath before looking back again.
He was still there.
Some Commander TightAss, dressed in a set of officer's blues, was stopping random people in an attempt to find her. And the fact that she was supposed to be inside that building, attending a class, in exactly ten minutes, made his checkpoint of choice deliberate.
That meant he knew who she was.
That also meant he knew what she looked like.
Double frakking frak.
Well, at least he wasn't getting anywhere. From what she could see, every person he canvassed shook their head and kept moving.
"So, what did you do now?"
A deep Piconese accent erupted behind her. Without thinking, she gripped her bag and swung it full-force into his solar plexus.
Doubled over, all she could see was a well-groomed head of sun-streaked blonde hair set on top of well-formed broad shoulders.
"Damn it, Grey – what the frak were you thinking sneaking up on me like that? I could've knocked your ass into next Tuesday!" Her concern was more for what she could have done than what she actually did.
Brushing him back against the side of the building even as he had yet to straighten up, Kara looked back at where Commander TightAss – who actually did have a decent ass, now that she saw it again for the third time without the chorus of 'oh-frak-me' echoing in her ears to distract her – was still asking people if they had seen her. This time, looking at him from behind, she saw him check his chronometer and then turn his head to scan the paved walkways one at a time. Frak. He knew where she was supposed to be, which meant that he probably got a copy of her schedule, which meant she had to disappear to someplace where no one could get their hands on her.
"Well, for one thing, I woke up this morning thinking that I should spend the afternoon in the infirmary getting my internal organs realigned as I contemplated the notion that breathing was a highly over-rated activity." Graesen Preyar snarked back at his friend.
"He could have heard you!" Kara pitched her voice low. "And given your stake in that lovely little bet we're both up to our necks in, it's in your best interest to keep him from getting me a shared-bath accommodation at the Locked Up Inn."
Her tone dared him to tell her she was wrong. He couldn't argue – she wasn't. Two weeks ago a game of Triad preceded an off-handed comment that led to a deliberate challenge that ended up becoming a bet that nearly the entire campus was now in on and she was smack-dab it the centre of it. As it stood, there was a pool going that stipulated that she couldn't stay out of hack for thirty days and the pot was substantial enough to make her want to keep her ass out of the brig until day thirty-one came and dawned. And considering the stake he had put up, she felt doubly responsible to keep her backside out of the campus slammer. The fact that she had seventeen days to go before she was clear made her aware that, with such substantial winnings involved, she had to stay on her toes because not everyone was going to play fair.
Doing a quick inventory of everything she had done in the past few days, nothing jumped out at her as being worthy of sending some blues-clad officer to collect her sorry ass.
Rolling her eyes at his exaggerated wheezing, her friend was another matter.
"Suck it up, Grey. That's what you get. You're lucky I held myself back."
Rubbing his mid-section and standing to his full six-foot-two height, he was tall enough to match her stance against the side of the building and still see what – who – she was looking at.
"That isn't the guy you had to put down at The Burn the other night, is it?" Grey thought out loud as he spared half a glance at the striking shades of yellow and blue highlighting Kara's cheekbone and coloured the hollow underneath her eye.
"You mean that Charm School graduate who got himself a permanent spot on the Manly-Man Wall of Shame?" She ticked the inside of her cheek against her teeth in sarcastic emphasis before shaking her head. "That's not him."
Risking another glance at the guy hovering around the front of the building before ducking away out of sight, a less pleasant idea came to his mind.
"Someone from your Pyramid days, Kara?" He frowned at the prospect of someone dogging the woman standing next to him.
Not that it hadn't happened before; someone figured out that Kara Thrace, former Pyramid Player was the same Lieutenant Thrace, Viper Pilot and stalked her a bit. Usually, the other person was looking for some grudge match to patch some long-ago wounded pride on the Pyramid court, or they wanted her to entertain them with stories from the pro-am circuit. Either way, his friend didn't deserve the creep-factor that came with either scenario. He didn't mind bashing a few heads in every now and then, it was just that Kara was always a little unsettled for a bit afterwards. Kicking someone's ass on the court couldn't make up for a professional career that never had a chance to become fully realized, and telling the tales of being on the road while still playing on the Pro-Am circuit was just as bad.
"Nah – I can't recognize him," Kara answered his question and pre-empted his next logical question.
"And you can tell by looking at his ass and back?" Graesen quipped while looking faintly surprised. "Then there is a man you haven't frakked in this man's Fleet."
"Frak you, Grey. Are you ever going to let that go?" She flicked her eyes to her personal gadfly and then re-locked her gaze on the man keeping to his post; her tone made sure he knew she was more amused than offended.
"Been there, done that. But, for you, I would be willing to schedule a repeat performance. Not every woman gets a call-back for a starring role in a Graesen Preyar Production, Kara." Grey's tone was light, but carried an echo of the history that was between them.
Initially drawn together by their mutual senses of humour at the expense of an over-the-top drill sergeant, they became the kind of friends that did everything together but frak. Then it graduated to 'friends with benefits'. But being in the same class, taking the same courses, and coming back to bounce in the same bed, put them into each other's pockets a little too much. Something had to go, and neither one of them was going to let the other wash out of the Academy or spoil their chances for Officer's Candidate School because of decent sex. Now, they were better friends than before and could get in close proximity of each other without the awkwardness that came with standing in someone's very personal space because of the intimacy they had shared. Not to mention that there was a genuine camaraderie between them. They talked about everything from sex to school, from sex to work, from sex to life, and more sex. It was an unwritten rule that neither of them mentioned the past. As far as anyone was concerned, Kara was born – fully clothed and ready for battle – on the Pyramid court and Graesen appeared ready to meet world as soon as he hit the Academy grounds. They were both protective of the other. More than once, she had played the jealous girlfriend in order to scare off some ditzy girl who would not take his 'no' for an answer and he had done his fair share of blocking and tackling when her right hook landed on some poor bastard's jaw who happened to be with a group of friends who did not take kindly to their friend being trounced by a woman.
But she had other things to worry about than a mostly-empty attempt to get her in the sack. As it was, she was still purring from that guy she met at The Burn the night before last. She had an itch, but Grey was not going to be the one to scratch it, no matter how fond of him she was.
"In your dreams, Grey; you wish I'd give you a good bounce. You know we make better friends than frak-buddies." Kara blithely waved one hand in his direction even as she kept her eyes on the man wearing blues and standing in front of the building. "What about What's-her-name? That piece of 'scenery' you picked up at 'central casting' last week?"
"Let's just say that she doesn't have your…'scene stealing abilities'. And yeah, I do know that and thank the Gods for it every day. But I needed something to get you from panicking as to what that guy wants with you to getting you to think about how you are going to get past him." Grey smirked, his silvery eyes matching the twisting of his lips.
"Grey, you know what I'm thinking?" A sinking feeling in her stomach underscored her words.
"That someone gave you credit for something they did just so that they could get you 'booked and brigged'?" He knew what she was thinking because he thought the same thing.
"Yep, that's the idea," Kara confirmed.
"Which means you can't retaliate because messing with a superior officer warrants insubordination nor can you just breeze by him hoping he won't notice a curvy blonde on her way to class." Graesen summed up what she – they – were up against.
"Unless…" A mischievous grin lit up her face as she turned and looked her friend straight in the eye. "Where are Alex and Sayre?"
"Right now?" Graesen asked, more interested in why she asked rather than whom she asked about. Not knowing where she was going with her train of thought was not the issue. What condition the train was going to arrive in at the end of the Kara Thrace Synapse Line was what made the price of the ticket worthwhile. "Both of them are clear across campus and too far away to help you get past that guy who's looking for you, Thrace."
"Grey – I don't need to get past him. I just need to get around him. Now, go with me on this…"
Bsg bsg bsg
"Hey, watch it!"
The last thing Jae expected was some textbook-carrying, glorified cadet come barrelling into him from behind and crashing into his shoulder.
"Sorry – didn't see you there, Sir." Graesen gave an abbreviated salute as he made a show of looking at the other man's – the one who had been asking about Kara – rank insignia.
"No problem." Not offended, Jae squinted at the swelling that was just starting to form along the other man's jaw line. "What happened to you?"
"Sparred with a wildcat; ended up on the wrong side of her paws." Grey's snarky answer was the truth. Thanks to Kara and her Brilliant Idea – her fist to his jaw – to make sure that whatever he said, the other man would believe was Scripture. Not that it hurt, or that he hadn't walked away with worse after going a couple of rounds with her, but she clipped him just right to make sure it swelled and became bright red right away.
Jovially clapping the other man on the back while still keeping watch on the front walk of the lecture hall, Jae took a chance that maybe this guy might know something. "Hey – maybe you can help me."
"Okay – I'll try." Grey pitched his answer between one guy trying to help another guy out and outright bullshit.
"I trying to help out a buddy of mine," Jae started to explain. "I'm supposed to find this girl…"
"Sorry man, I don't do jail bait." Grey cut him off even as he appraised the slightly older officer. His initial thoughts were confirmed as he saw a look of recognition flash in the other man's eyes. A certain level of respect had been established with one smooth – and again, truthful – line. The only people Grey played with were those who were old enough to read the playbook and wise enough not to try to change the rules half way through the game. Making a show of trying to step around him to go on his way to class, Grey made sure he didn't move too quickly. His gamble paid off when he heard the officer's words come at him from behind.
"I used the wrong word." Jae back-pedalled. "I'm trying find this woman, you see. Her name is Thrace and I'm supposed to bring her…"
"What did she do?" Pausing in mid-stride and facing the other man again, Grey popped his eyebrows and lilted his voice perfectly. "Why's she so important?"
"I really can't go into that. You understand, right?" Jae knew he was being evasive, but there was no way he was going to broadcast that he was the reason why his best friend went home alone the night before last.
The urge to take a swing at someone willing to frak with an honest bet made his fingers twitchy, especially since it appeared that this guy was willing to put Kara in hack for someone else who didn't have the balls to go after her himself. Chasing any hint of knowing what the officer was up too off his face, Grey played out the line and baited it with a well-timed brush against where Kara just hit him.
"Sure, I get it. Gotta keep it under wraps; one guy looking out for his friend."
Watching the other guy rub the side of his face, Jae thought he saw something flash across the other man's eyes but it was gone as quickly as it flared. Picking up on the now rueful look that matched a quick touch to the side of the face, Jae put two and two together.
"That's her handiwork?"
"Yeah – that was the hellcat I was talking about. We were in the gym when – BOOM – out of the blue she clocks me. No warning what so ever. Let me tell ya, I was NOT impressed. Like I wanna slurp my way through the rest of my day through a straw," Grey made sure his tone was more self-deprecating than accusatory. After all, he did let his guard down when she said, 'just go with me on this', which was the moment she connected her right hook with his square jaw.
"I hear ya my friend." Commiserating with the younger man, Jae added a splash of, 'you're a guy and I'm a guy, why don't you help me out because we're guys' camaraderie to his next words. "You wouldn't happen to know where she said she was going, do you? According to her schedule, she is supposed to be here," he tipped his chin in the direction of the building behind them. "But if she hasn't shown by now…"
"No, no – I completely understand. Thrace is the best-worst officer on campus. Best in the air, best on the ground, ready to take a bullet – proverbial or physical – for her friends but hates to be constrained by all the rules and regulations. That includes ditching classes when she thinks she can get away with it. If she spent half as much time in front of the professors as she did on the firing range…" Grey let his voice trail off long enough for the other man to pick up the breadcrumbs he tossed down. "As far as where she said she was going next, I wish I could tell you. I left before I heard her say anything like that."
"Thanks anyway – I appreciate it." Jae voice was solid, and his eyes were focused on the guy standing next to him, but his mind was turning over what he had just been told.
"Look – sorry I couldn't've been more help – I really gotta go." Drawing attention to the book he was carrying, Grey made it a point to convey that he was running late for class. Not to mention that the man dressed in blues had about twenty seconds before he was going to be enjoying a smooth, comfortable ride inside an Emergency Medical Responder transport.
"Yeah – sorry – didn't mean to keep you." Jae stuck out his hand in an offer of a handshake but his fingers closed around nothing but air. The other guy had one hand in his pants pocket and the other firmly wrapped around the spine of a book which he used to offer a sloppy salute, turn and start climbing the steps leading to the lecture hall.
Reaching into his pocket, Jae fished out his vidder and paged Kevin. Hearing Kevin pick up, he said, "Got her. She's at the firing range. Head over there and keep tabs on her, I'll meet you there."
Folding his vidder, Jae was just about to make his way across campus when he caught something flashing in the sun out of the corner of his eye. Angling his head but not turning around, he saw the guy he was just talking to speak into his mobile and caught the tail end of a scathing look launched in his direction.
Moving on like he didn't see anything, Jae mentally drummed his fingers and replayed the conversation he just had in his head. There was something there that he needed just a little more time to figure out.
Walking into the building without pummelling the officer he was just speaking too, Graesen heard every word the other man said. Slowing his pace as he climbed up the broad stairs, he settled for casting a nasty look at the older man before turning his head and locking his eyes on the front door of the lecture hall. Stopping just inside the entryway and pulling out his vidder, three buttons had him sending a page that was answered within four pings, "Sayre? It's Grey. Guess what? It's Round Robin time. Who? For Kara; some frat boy incarnate has a hard-on to see her in hack for something she didn't do. Someone's setting her up because they want her to lose that bet. Yeah, that does put that frakker in the rat-bastard column. I'm gonna call Alex next. Between the three of us, that should buy her enough time to find a hiding place. Call me as soon as Commander TightAss leaves, okay? Thanks. Bye."
Clapping the vidder close, Grey counted to thirty and then gave up the pretence of going to class he wasn't scheduled to attend.
Dropping down the front steps rhythmically and feeling the warmth of the sun across his back, he aimed for the same direction that he last saw Commander TightAss walking. Trailing Commander Frat Boy was going to be easy. In fact, as long as he saw that the other man was actually in the vicinity of the Firing Range, he could double back, drop off Kara's textbook and catch up with his friend. If she thought he was going to carry around her book all afternoon, she was way off course.
Seeing the whole exchange from his position underneath a near-by tree, Grey's unhurried pace gave Lee plenty of time to get up, brush himself off, pack up the few books he strategically scattered around his legs, stow them along side the other item in his duffle bag and still keep the taller blonde-haired man in his sights.
Shouldering the bag, one wry thought crossed his already busy mind: if only he could get credit for planning an op like this…
bsg bsg bsg
Coming around the back side of the Athletic Field, Grey heard a collective groan followed by a rabble-rousing cheer carry all the way from the Pyramid courts.
A smug smile stretched from his face to his eyes. Someone lost and someone more popular won. As far as he was concerned, it was the way of the universe as much as it was a personal conviction. Nor did he need three guesses to figure out the name of the winner.
If there was one thing Kara played better than Triad, it was Pyramid. And the only thing better than watching her play was playing with her – or against her. Because even if she knocked you on your ass, it was worth it just to walk away knowing you played with one of the best and that she beat you at your level. He had seen her shift her skill level effortlessly between opponents. If someone was a beginner, novice or intermediate level player, she held back – but not in a condescending kind of way because she had too much love for the game to do that to someone. No – she pushed, played hard, and made the other person work for every play, point and possession for all three periods, never once letting the other person quit or give up. A few times he had seen her go up against someone who was a worthy opponent. Hell, that time when the Panthers came to campus for an exhibition game, one of the starting three was someone she knew from her Pro-Am days and challenged her to a game of one-on-one. That was amazing to watch. When the third period came to an end, and even though she lost, it was like she won the game. Granted he heard her get up in the middle of the night and make her way to the showers to let ice-cold water cascade over her knee, but the glow to her skin lasted for days, long after her limp faded away. How she handled the 'g's' in the simulators without once letting on that she was hurting was a testament to how much the love of flying had, not so much replaced Pyramid in her life, but bloomed alongside her passion for the game.
A gentle pinging noise had him reaching into his pockets and answering his vidder. "Graesen Preyar."
It was Alex. The sounds of aircraft taxiing on the tarmac of the airfield nearly drowned out what Alexlandra Barzoi was trying to tell him.
"Grey – Alex; I only have a minute. Commander TightAss never showed up here on the tarmac looking for Kara." She didn't sound worried, more like he should know what didn't happen since he was the one who called in the Round Robin.
"Okay Alex – thanks for the heads up. Maybe he caught the hint and gave up when…" A steady, beeping tone sounded in his ear. "Hold on a second, Alex – I've got another page streaming in." Shifting ears, he said, "Graesen Preyar."
"Preacher – it's Sayre."
Grey had to laugh at Sayre using his call-sign. His flight instructor, the same one who was denied giving Kara her call-sign because she already had one from before Flight School started, had a fairly literal mind. Preyar was somewhat phonetic to prayer, and prayers were what priests led, and it was not too far a leap to go from priest to preacher. Once the initial surprise wore off, his call-sign was more ironic than anything else because his lifestyle was as far from a priest's as possible. But, leave it to Kara to put a completely different spin on it. In her words, she said that it was a good thing that there was a Preacher in the air so that there would be someone to whisper the Preyar of the Dead over the floating chunks of wreckage that they would leave in their wake should the Cylons ever decide to come back and show their metal faces in their solar system ever again.
"Walk and talk with me, Coulomb." Being on-vid with two different people – both of whom he considered close friends – didn't necessitate stopping in order to talk to them. He was three minutes from the courts and by the sounds being carried on the light afternoon breeze the game was getting down to the final play.
"No one came around looking for Kara, Thrace or Starbuck." Sayre 'Satyr' Coulomb relayed from where he was pulling duty down at the Firing Range. Being in the same flight class, he was not a victim of the same flight instructor's penchant for phonetics and alliteration. No, he got his name the old fashion way – from the guys he showered and bunked with. Between his groin and his toes, Sayre was one frakking furry man.
"You're sure?" Speaking of being frakked.
"Positive. I've been here since before you called and I haven't missed anybody who has come and gone from here." Satyr confirmed just how frakked Kara was.
"Okay – I'm on it. As soon as I know something, so will you." Grey promised and ended the signal. Pressing another button he asked, "Alex – you still there?"
"I'm here, Grey." The sounds of hydraulics and people barking orders in the background were almost as loud as her words.
"Sit tight. If I need you…" Grey didn't get to finish his sentence because she did it for him.
"There's nothing I can do at this point. But keep me posted, my shift ends in two hours; Barzoi out."
Folding his vidder, a flash of blonde hair glinting like the mane from one of Apollo's chariot horses caught his eye. Her opponent had stooped over in an attempt to reach the ball and in a blur of motion, Kara snatched up the ball, came around the backside of her challenger, pushed off the ground with her left foot, landed on his back with her right leg and found her balance without losing momentum, put her left leg down just behind his shoulder blade as she took aim with her right hand, threw the ball, pushed off with her right foot sailing over his head before he knew what she was doing, came down and landed lightly on her left foot as the ball swished into the goal-hole.
A round of cheers, applause and ear-piercing whistles had Grey focusing his silvered eyes on the crowd roaring with approval.
Seated five rows up, Commander TightAss was flanked by two other men. All were dressed in blue trousers piped with the same colour. Both he and the man sitting to the left were looking more than impressed and clapping enthusiastically at what they just witnessed. The officer sitting to their right was the one who had his fingers hooked between his front teeth and his mouth was responsible for the whistling. All of them had stripped down to their tanks and that meant that there was no way for Kara to know that her biggest supporters were the ones looking to haul her to the brig because, unlike Grey, she never saw his face.
Grey had one thought cross his mind before some semblance of a plan started to form on the outer edges of his considerable imagination.
Oh, holy mother of frak…
bsg bsg bsg
Dropping someone twice her size on their ass, standing on a bar or mopping up a Pyramid court with a decent adversary, Lee felt the thrum of desire for his Valkyrie more sharply than he did two nights ago. By the Gods, he hadn't even touched her yet but his hands tingled like they had roamed over every inch of her body.
If he thought she looked good at The Burn in that green and black outfit, seeing her out here, in the sun, on the court, upped the ante on her sensuality factor. Sweating, glistening, hair damp and lying flat against her head, eyes bright with competition, limbs loose and encased in well-scuffed Pyramid pads, sleek muscles pulling and stretching under smooth skin and a lip-smacking predatory smirk spread across every crease of her generous mouth had him grateful it had taken this long to have tracked her down. To have missed seeing her in action in this arena, in all her Gladiator glory, would definitely be something to regret.
Another long trilling whistle from Kevin had his warrior-woman breaking eye contact with her opponent. Lifting her head, a fringe of sweat-wet bangs swung in the same direction she tilted her chin. Her stance shifted from protecting the ball in her possession to straightening up and scanning the stands to acknowledge her admirer. She gave Kevin an abbreviated nod of remembrance. Squinting, Lee knew exactly when she recognized Jae. She shot his friend a saucy wink and a cocked eyebrow that carried as much playfulness as the drink she sent him two nights ago.
He, he got a special look. With one hand she waved to her opponent, telling him that she needed a moment. Walking off the court, she skirted the safety netting and backboards. Stopping at the foot of the stands, she propped her foot against the first row of bleachers, bracketed her glove-covered hands over her hips and looked him square in the eye.
"Fly Boy." Her one word had ten intonations fleshing out the two syllables. Among them, proof that she still held him accountable for frakking up the night before last.
Giving as much attitude as she gave, he heard himself answering with none of the twenty different salutations he rehearsed in his head over the last forty-eight hours.
Cocking her head slightly to one side, he could practically hear her thinking about what to say next. He knew what he wanted to hear, but seeing as she was the injured party, he kept his mouth shut and waited.
He saw a spark catch the tinder in her eyes the second she made her decision.
"Fly Boy – I'm gonna to do you a favour."
Leaning back against the bleacher behind him, he matched her cavalier attitude with one he had perfected long ago.
"Really, now – is that so?"
Completely unfazed, with all the airs of a Royal Condescension, she laid it down for him.
"I'm going to let you have winners."
Jae, Kevin and those immediately around them winced at her words as much as they rallied behind her confidence.
Rolling his lips together, Lee felt himself lean forward and brace his forearms against his knees.
"Done – but I have three conditions."
"It's my court – my rules – Fly Boy." Her answer was as cut and dry as her declaration. It was her expectant gaze that gave him the go-ahead to lay out his stipulations.
"One: it's Lee, not Fly Boy. Two, make sure that your friend there knows that we come in peace." Without lifting his arms off his thighs, Lee nodded to where Graesen had taken up guard duty and was nonchalantly leaning against one of the support beams of the nearest backboard.
"And three is?" Her voice was ripe with amused scepticism over what he was going to say next.
"Three; you give me permission to call you by your name so that when I ping you later I'm not groping for impersonal pronouns and vague euphemisms with which to address you."
Lifting her foot off the bleacher, she looked like she was actually considering his offer before completely dismissing the whole thing altogether.
That is, as she was walking away, she stopped and fired off her caveats.
"One; we'll see. Two; my friends answer to no one but themselves. If you want him to stand down, you're gonna to have to give him a reason too. As for Number Three, that's going to depend on how well you do out there – isn't it Fly Boy?"
For the second time in two days, Lee thanked the Gods that the word – saunter – and the deed went hand-and-hand with Lt. K. Thrace.
bsg bsg bsg
Three periods later and the tallies were…
Kara Thrace: one skinned elbow, one splendidly bruised shoulder, more sweat produced than previously thought possible and one hell of a smirk.
Lee Adama: one torn pant leg, court-rash over knee of same torn pant leg, one heaving chest from exertion, one pair of sweat soaked tanks and underwear and one hell of a well-pleased look on his face.
The Crowd: witnessing a frakking hot, sexually-fired, well-played Pyramid game that was now in Sudden Death overtime. Whoever made the next shot won the game.
The initial banter and slick, showy moves were traded up for grunts, groans, body-impacts and using breath to fuel muscles rather than taunting the other person.
She had the ball; he had her in a bear hug trying to get her to drop the ball so that he could take possession. Pinning her arms to her torso, he had both of his sizeable arms wrapped around her and he had lifted her up so that both her feet were off the ground. Her tanks had ridden up and he was locked around shiny, wet flesh. His hold was tenuous at best and he knew it. If she would only let go! Her tailbone pressed against his stomach was pulling his attention in a completely different direction. Her initial shriek of surprise was behind the well-pleased look on his face.
Tightening her grip, there was no way she was going to let go. Her knee was aching and there was no way she was going to let this guy win. Dodging and twisting, she thought she had cleared him and was setting herself up to sprint to her side of the court in order to make the winning goal when two tree-trunks wrapped themselves around her waist and lifted her off the ground. A jolt of electricity and the element of surprise caught her completely off guard and before she knew it, she had let out a well-pleased squeal that was quickly masked by a tell-tale smirk. His hold was tight, but as she shifted her weight against his body, she had room to wiggle because of the layer of sweat between his arms and her mid-section.
She knew she was facing her goal. She knew she had the ball. All she had to do was get the ball into the goal. That was the problem most people had when it came to Pyramid. They over thought – they played with the notion that things had to be orchestrated, played out and that subterfuges were the key to winning.
Pyramid boiled down to one principle: get ball into hole. That's all there was to it. That was why – in a completely overly-simplified assessment of her skills – she was so good at it. She never forgot that.
Lifting her knees, she kicked out her legs, swung them down and used the momentum to bounce them up, locking them together on the up-swing. The entire front of her body slid up and over his shoulder. Between her momentum and her element of surprise, Fly Boy loosened his hold just enough so that she could slither down his back. Facing her goal but still needing to get around an insanely sexy male body, she pivoted on her heels and using a hip-check that was as legal as his bear-hug, sent him sprawling sideways, falling onto the court and breaking his fall with an outstretched arm and scrabbling back towards her.
That was all the opening she needed as long as she didn't take time to aim.
Hauling back her arm, she instinctively threw the ball just as his fingers hooked the elastic top of the sock on her nearest ankle and pulled hard, toppling her to the floor of the court.
Controlling her fall prevented her knee from being further tweaked but couldn't save her forehead from bouncing off the court floor.
She didn't need to hear the roar of the crowd to know her half-assed toss made it into goal. It was the look on his face, when she lifted her head and turned her face towards him that told her that they both won. His blue eyes had everything in them that she ever dared hope someone would look at her with and for the count of ten rapid-fire heartbeats, she gave him a glimpse of everything she was - behind and including her formidable emotional defences – as she held his gaze and refused to let go.
She was – is, he corrected himself – amazing. Powerful, strong, alive, smart, loyal, passionate, unpredictable and, in the space of ten thumping heartbeats, just as damaged and frakked-up as he was and he knew it because she told him so. Not with words, but with the depths that came from looking into a pair of green eyes that branded his soul.
Letting go of her eyes was easy, because he had earned access whenever she wanted to give it to him. Rolling onto his back took more effort than he thought. He was spent. The warm afternoon air seared his labouring lungs. Every part of his body hurt in one way or another. His trousers were ruined and he could feel the kind of wetness that only came with bleeding right where the fabric tore and exposed his knee. And, where as any other time his mind would have turned to analyzing and processing what just occurred, he didn't have it in him. The only thing he wanted to do was prolong these moments with her for as long as possible and let the feelings and emotions running rampant in his veins bubble up from his chest and let him enjoy laughing – with her – as he still was still on the ground from her hip-check.
Finding the strength to look at her one more time, the smile on her face was the best mirror he could have asked for. That was the 'why and how' he somehow managed to find a way to moisten his mouth enough to ask one question.
Her shy smile, in the wake of the past forty minutes and two days, was the best balm for his wrecked body.
She didn't know what to say, this had never happened to her before. In one breath she wanted to share everything about herself and run for the hills. But her knee hurt, she could feel the itchy crawl of a bead of blood trailing across her hairline and she ached in more places then she knew she had. When he broke eye contact, she was not offended in any way, shape or form. She needed a moment to regroup herself. Those blue eyes of his hid nothing from her gaze and for once, just for a second, she knew she touched a similar kind of pain that she carried close to her soul. He had proved himself, to a certain degree. That was the 'how and why' she dredged up a few precious drops of moisture, which her oxygen-deprived body hadn't completely evaporated, to lick her lips and answer his question.
They both smiled at that. Both of them had their pride – probably too much if truth be told. But lying here, next to him, she knew she didn't make any concession that she would regret later.
The sound of pounding feet, the blur of several pairs of shoes coming in and out of focus as his friends and her friend descended on them broke the spell, but did not damage the connection between them.
Looking up at Grey's silver eyes, she grasped his wrists and let him haul her to her feet.
Finding her footing, a sense of vertigo melted into the background as Lee was pulled to his feet by the combined efforts of his two friends.
A brief nod from him had her nodding back. She wasn't going to ask about the way he was favouring his wrist any more than he was going to comment on the fact that she was limping as they made their way back to the bleachers and the crowd that was clambering to rehash what they had just witness.
Shooting a look to Grey, Kara was pleasantly surprised to see it be relayed to Jae. Apparently while she was playing her ass off, Grey came to the conclusion that Lee and his friends were not there to haul her to hack. Not that couldn't happen, but not at the moment at least. Between the two men, the hangers-on were quickly dispersed as they were promised a play-by-play commentary later on that night at The Burn.
Watching Lee shrug into his over-shirt made her wish she had brought something more substantial to put over herself. With the game done and her heart-rate and breathing returning to normal, her sweat-soaked tanks and body were started to give her the chills.
Standing at her elbow, she felt Grey give her a nudge and ask, "Cold?"
"Yeah – freezing actually," Kara heard herself 'fess.
"We should get you out of here." He added as she saw him look her over appraisingly.
Nodding, she turned and looked back at Lee, who was pulling a leather jacket out of a duffle bag that was now slung over Kevin's shoulder.
"Here – try this, Kara," Lee said as he presented her with something she could wear.
Grateful, she accepted it.
"Thanks, Lee. I appreciate that. I'll get it back to you…"
Sliding her arms into the holes and pulling the plackets into place, the roomy fit was not one that matched the proportions of the man standing in front of her and it had her abandoning what she was about to say.
"No need to – it's…" Lee started to explain, but one of her hesitantly shy smiles had him letting her interrupt what he was going to say.
"Mine." The Starbuck in Kara was groaning that she was such a girl. It was the Kara in Starbuck that reminded her more aggressive side that sometimes it was good to be a girl. Sometimes.
Now at a loss for words, Lee scrambled for something coherent to say and then scratched it for being himself.
"It looks good on you."
"Thanks. Where did you get it?" Kara asked.
Jae, Kevin and Grey had fallen back and taken to talking to themselves as they waited for Lee and Kara.
"That coat-checker at The Burn gave it to me." Lee explained. "I wanted to find you and apologize. Just so you know – there was never any bet. Just some loose words between a couple of guys that had everything to do with you."
"I see." Her tone told him she didn't quite believe him, but he had earned the right to take back what he said and try again. "So… later tonight; meet you at The Burn?"
"Yeah. Definitely. At least for a little while – unless we find something better to do." Lee made sure to envelope his words in as much mystery and sensual promise as possible.
"Oh, yeah – until we find something else better to do." Kara echoed knowingly.