Title: Nessun Dorma

Author: Lopaka Tanu

Disclaimer: I do not claim ownership of Battlestar Galactica.

Characters: Gaeta, Lee, ensemble

Wordcount: 29259

Fandom: Battlestar Galactica

Pairing: Gaeta/Lee

Rating: Adult

Warnings: Language, Violence, Alternate Universe

Summary: After an incident during his fourth year, Gaeta finds himself left without a posting and adrift among the colonies.

Author's Note: Gaeta never served on the Galactica.

Sitting at attention with the rest of his graduating class, newly minted Lieutenant Gaeta saluted his superior officers. So far, it had been a long and boring ceremony focusing too much on the religious aspect of their serving in the colonial military. Did they know the wondrous and truly heroic legacy they were becoming a part of? How often would they get the chance to say they knew such and such person before they became an icon? How long did old wind bags drone on before they petered out and would farting speed up the process?

Felix was pretty sure that the last one wasn't part of the ceremony, but he felt it should be there. Time honored tradition demanded humility of it's personnel. What was more humbling than self depreciating humor? He was sure that at least the mischievous looking senior ranking lieutenant at the end of the admiral's entourage would think so. The man had been shooting glances to someone behind Gaeta for the past half hour, making faces in an attempt to get one of his fellow graduating cadets to break the solemn silence.

He had a pretty good impression of who it might be, but didn't care to confirm it. If the other man was going to so much trouble just to get someone else in trouble, he should return the favor. When he was certain the admiral wasn't looking, Felix crossed his eyes, pushed up his nose, and puffed out his cheeks. Puckering his lips in what he knew was a pretty good impression of Admiral Negala talking, Felix mimed the admiral's actions.

It had the desired effect, as the lieutenant snorted with laughter, but covered it up with a cough.

Much to Felix's satisfaction, the admiral had shut up and was busy glaring at the reddening lieutenant.

Chuckles among the admiralty and their entourage made his cheeks flame further. He sent a glare at Felix, but he couldn't be brought to care.

Knowing he had won, Gaeta sat back in his chair and ignored the rest of the ceremony. He had seen it four times in his five year service at the academy. Having delayed his graduation by three years for officer training, Gaeta was hoping to get a position on a Battlestar. There were half a dozen spots opening up for his class and seven of them up for them. As second in his class, he knew he would get his choice among the five remaining positions.

He would have been top of the graduating class, but Commander Ianto had made it his personal duty to make sure Gaeta failed at least one course during fourth year command simulations. He was deemed too cold and calculating to be a good commander. A commander had to know when to trust his people to make the right decision. The fact he had saved most of his team hadn't made a difference in that exercise. He would have saved them all if Zak Adama wasn't such a frakking idiot.

Felix realized he was the only one still sitting due to his lack of attention and knew it would cost him later. Standing quickly, he adjusted his blue uniform. When Negala gave him a reproving glance, Felix bit back his need to puff out his cheeks. Cantankerous old fart probably had a sign on his ass that read keep away from open flames.

When the admiral had finished speaking, the cadets formed a single file row, Felix at the head. He put out his hand to receive the golden eagle rank insignia that made him a lieutenant and the two silver palm fronds that denoted him as a tactical officer. Had he been going on to pilot training, he would have received nothing more than his lieutenant's emblem. Three years more at the academy than most of his class and all he got were two stupid silver palms.

Forcing himself to smile at the admiral as he shook the man's hand, Gaeta cringed on the inside. The man was as disgusting physically as he was politically. The non-active admirals spent most of their days chasing the tails of young recruits and generally making a nuisance of themselves. Negala was the worst of the lot when not dragging his ass across the fleet for surprise inspections.

After the man moved on to the next cadet, Gaeta let himself relax inside his uniform. At least his ass wasn't so clenched anymore. Out of a nervous fear, he kept a tight leash on all bodily functions. While it was okay for an old admiral to rip one through the crowd, a young cadet with such a condition wasn't very popular. It was mere a practicality.

The next admiral in the line of superior officers that were there to congratulate them all stood in front of Gaeta, hand out expectantly. He was one that had pursued a couple of the female cadets, right out of the academy and in to civilian life.

With a haughty sniff, Gaeta ignored the man's hand in favor of the next admiral. He had been friends with a few of those cadets.

The admiral took the hint, giving Felix a glare that promised this wouldn't go unanswered. Moving on to the next cadet, he was met with a similar reaction.

Gaeta felt his spirits rise when by the third cadet, the admiral had learned his lesson and merely smiled repugnantly at them. It was gratifying to know these bastards no longer had a say in his future. When he got a posting on a battlestar, all he had to fear was the personal opinion of the XO and Commanding Officer. Some times there was an admiral, most times it was just a commander.

Speaking of which, the next person in line to congratulate them was the commander for the battlestar Pollox. She was one of the commanders looking for a new junior tactical officer. She was also a complete ass kisser when it came to Admiral Negala, thus Felix shook her hand only enough to keep her moving.

The fourth person was an admiral from Pycon Fleet Command. He was an active duty personnel and commanded the fourth fleet in combat situations. His third in chain of command was looking for a few good JTO's as well, three in fact. The Argos was a new Furies class battlestar, with an escort of five long-range tactical vessels. If he got appointed there, he would more than likely get command of one of the LTVs, and that would stall his career. LTVs were not jumping points for future commands, in fact, most people ended their career as the commanding officer of an LTV.

Therefore, he smiled prettily for the admiral, but prayed inside the man would keep going. He was relieved when the admiral chose the woman beside him to grasp hands with affectionately. She was definitely one of those chosen for the dead end LTV command positions. Served her right.

The fifth and final admiral was a woman many men feared. She made it obvious she had a low opinion of them from the get go. Admiral Cain was a hard assed, recently promoted officer that commanded the Pegasus. If Gaeta wanted to fast track his career, he would bow down and kiss her feet for the position she had open on her battlestar. Sadly, Gaeta liked his balls vice free. Unfortunately for him, Cain seemed to delight in his actions.

Pulling him close when their hands clasped, she grinned at him. Her breath smelled of sea salts, her uniform of military issue cleansers and well oiled leather. "If you tried that with me, I would have your head. As it is, if you are trying to impress me, consider yourself watched." Pushing him back, she released his hand and looked to the next person in line. Her expression at seeing the woman made Felix happy the other admirals hadn't liked him. Gripping the woman's hand, Cain enjoyed the wince the lieutenant made.

"I would be careful of her if I were you, she seems to have taken a liking to you."

Glancing quickly back to the waiting line of dignitaries, Gaeta found himself face to face with his choice in commanders. Putting out his hand hopefully, Gaeta smiled. "Commander Adama, sir, it's good to see you again."

Adama nodded at him distractedly. "How have you been, Cadet?"

"I'm a lieutenant now, sir." Holding up is rank pin, Gaeta smiled cheerfully for the commander. When he saw the Admiral still wasn't looking at him, he frowned. "Is something the matter?"

Giving Felix a distant smile, Adama patted him on the shoulder. "Nothing. Congratulations again, Cadet." Moving on, Adama shook the hand of the next person in line.

"It's lieutenant now..." Felix was stunned. For the past year he had been doing everything he could get the Commander to notice him. He thought he had been succeeding. So far, every communique with him had seemed positive. So what had happened? Gaeta saw the rest of the people in line were civilians. No longer feeling up to kissing their asses, he pulled himself from the line and walked off.

Frowning, Secretary of Education, Laura Roslin, waited her turn. He had seemed like a nice young man, if a little immature in his actions. Glancing down the line to the now amicably chatting Commander Adama, she wondered just what had transpired between them.

Gaeta was in his dorm room packing his bags when the word came down from the admiralty. He had known from the moment Adama ignored him that his posting to one of the battlestars would not be happening. There were only six available posts in the entire fleet for one with his qualifications and seven people applying for them. He hadn't bothered to try finding out their reasons, it didn't matter, the decision was made.

Zipping the seam on his bag, he gave one last look to the room that had been his home for the past five years with regret. So much time spent here, so much wasted effort. All his hopes of becoming an officer on a battlestar had been the only thing keeping him going at times. Without that, there was nothing keeping here.

He back handed the light switch, breaking the panel in turning off. Leaving the door open, he hefted his one bag over his shoulder. The halls were awash in the sounds and smells of parties being carried out. They were celebrating their victories, his defeat. Nothing new there.

As he stepped in to the night air, Felix tossed off the heavy weight that had been keeping him steady. Who knew where this new life would lead him. All he knew was that he had no place left here, they had made that abundantly clear in their orders.

On his way to the civilian transport pad, he stopped by the dumpster. Taking a bundle from his pack, he threw it in and slammed the lid.

The plan was simple, or so he had thought until he actually put it in to action. Life was far from easy as a newly minted civilian and things made little sense to him. Having prepared all his life to be a colonial officer, Gaeta found normal human activities were inordinately complicated. There was no structure in anything, people on the streets wandered aimlessly, ground transports never obeyed the laws, even the markets were only a step up from the primordial chaos that spawned the gods.

Another thing that bothered him, even in his small hovel of an apartment on the waterfront, was the human noise. So many people doing so many conflicting things, it was pure hell. The first thing he had done when getting the single room apartment was invest what little he had in sound proofing. It hadn't helped.

Gaeta longed for the rigid structure and strict discipline of the colonial fleet. Every morning he awoke at precisely the same time, just before his alarm went off. For the first week since his discharge, he had continued his daily ablutions out of habit. On the eighth day, he had forgotten to brush his hair. By the twelfth day had come, he had stubble. After two weeks, Gaeta stopped trying.

On the fifteenth day of his civilian life, Gaeta awoke to the sounds of explosions in the market place. It wasn't unexpected, he had trained for combat situations after all. One never knew when one was going to come under fire, they had to always be ready for an attack. He had taken his service piece out of the holster on his bed post and stealthily made his way to the front window.

In the market below his window, soldiers were trying to make an attempt on a building. However, the people across the street had other ideas. They had the soldiers out numbered and surrounded.

His first instinct was to open the window and start taking them out. From his position, he was the perfect back up. It would be quite simple with his marksman training, he knew he could do it before they had a chance to spot him. They were soldiers, marines from the looks of their uniforms. Once, it would have been his duty to help them.

Pulling down his blinds, Gaeta went back to bed.

Gaeta celebrated the end of his first thirty days as a civilian by getting a job. With a dress shirt he once wore under his dress uniform jacket, and a pair of regulation black slacks for formal occasions that weren't quite military, but still important, he applied at a local merchant's stall. From his window observations, he knew they had a security problem, which was bad because they did a lot of business.

Standing in line at the counter, he had his government papers in hand to prove he was qualified. He was third in line from the owners' table, waiting with the rest of the month's petitioners. Actually, he, much like them, were seeking work with the company. There was nothing special to it, nine out of ten were there looking for loading positions. The other one percent were looking to be hired on as guards.

Gaeta was the exception to both.

When the man in front of him was told to apply else where, he straightened his back and held out his official identification to be inspected. Eyes forward, he waited for their next orders. Eventually, the silence clued him in that something was wrong. Looking down at the man behind the table, he raised his eyebrows in question. "Is something wrong with my identification, sir?"

Swallowing, the portly man wiped at his chin. "Who sent you?"

"I do not understand your question. As you can clearly see I..." Reaching down, Gaeta was about to point to point at his official qualifications on the tiny booklet when he found himself at the business end of a gun. "Am a free agent."

"I can read, you dumb frak! It's what I'm readin I don't like!" The man leaned forward on the table, making it sway under his weight. Ignoring how close he had moved to his own guard's guns, the man narrowed his eyes. "Why are you here, Spartan?"

It took a minute for Gaeta to understand what the reference. Frowning, he shook his head. "I am no longer in the military."

"So I'm just supposed to believe you had nothing to do with that dust up a couple weeks ago?" Snickering, the man pursed his lips. His fingers twitched as he wished for a weapon of his own. "I suggest you take your little papers and get out of my establishment. I run a respectable place here and you are fouling up the air."

Seeing as no one there held any good will towards him, Gaeta took back his identification. "Very well. However, before I go, I just thought you should know that three of your people are, in fact, informants for the government. I'll leave it to you to find out who on your own." Smiling once, he swept his gaze over all the assembled people and walked out.

Let the bastard stew on that. In reality, he only knew of one, and suspected another. When the two were discovered, which he was sure would happen, the bastard would tear apart his business searching for the third.

Figuring this place had lost it's appeal, Gaeta planned his next jump. Tauron was a lost cause. Pycon was tempting, but after being burned by the fleet, he wasn't willing to risk running in to one of his former comrads. Libero was an out of the way corner of the system that held very little appeal to most travelers. The colonial military had only a small base there and left it to fend for itself most of the time.

He had studied the supply deliveries and found that a massive convoy went their twice a year to restock everything. It would be a good four months before the next one and news didn't travel fast out that direction. He might be able to get a government position on his current credentials without them checking too much in to why he 'quit' the military.

Decision made, he stalked up his building's steps and began to pack.

Tauron but a memory, Gaeta shivered while stepping off the ramp of the transport vessel Black Hag. On the forward hull was a black haired old woman with one eye that reminded Gaeta of Lieutenant Liefler from the academy. While she wasn't one eyed, she was still the worst kind of officer. Her ambition would get someone, may be her, killed one day. Probably very soon if her posting aboard the Guaditana was anything to go by.

She and two others from his class were serving as LTV commanders right now. The two weeks the Black Hag had been in transit, he had taken it upon himself to review the posting of his former fellows. In a surprise move, Commander Adama had gotten the cream of their class. He thought for sure that Cain would take that honor for herself. Nothing but the best had been her motto.

He couldn't really fault Lieutenant JG Hanlon. The man wasn't a bad officer, he just couldn't cut it in a tight situation. The fact he had passed officer training exercise was a mixture of luck and favoritism. Commander Ianto had kept him close.

Gaeta, on the other hand, had been Ianto's bitch. He could still recall the look of sheer hatred the man had given him when he ordered the ship to jump before all his pilots were aboard. That was too bad, the decision had been his and they were dead in the water. There was no way they could get back before the dummy cylons would have destroyed the ship. Had it been real, he would have gotten a commendation for saving his crew.

As it was, he failed the exercise.

Shaking off his revery along with the frost that had formed on his jacket, Gaeta hunkered down in the cheap clothes. Booking passage had taken the few quebits of currency he had 'borrowed' from the merchant his last night on Tauron. Felix figured the ox of a man owed him at least something for revealing his organization was compromised. Getting enough money to afford the coat had cost him something more precious.

Staring at the unsightly figures unloading the cargo from the hold, he felt naked without his service piece. It had cost him half a year's pay for it. Walking across the frozen surface of Libero, he didn't have a single regret about selling it.

Despite the cold air, Gaeta found it easier to breathe here. There were fewer people on Libero because of it's less than hospitable environment and remote location. He had a meeting with the magistrate of PortCity Harbor to determine if his application for a local police officer would be accepted. Over the wireless, the man had been abrupt. He didn't care for useless pleasantries and Felix found himself answering him much like he had his drill instructors. On the bright side, the man hadn't told him to do the universe a favor and jump out an air lock.

Seeing a passing man with an official look to him, Gaeta held up a hand to get his attention. When he had flagged the man down, he stood at attention. "I am sorry to bother you, sir, but can you direct me to the Magistrate's office?"

With a well practiced sneer, the man looked down upon Gaeta despite the fact he was smaller. "If I give you a quebit, will you go away?" Taking a handful of the small triangular coins from his pocket, he tossed them at Gaeta's feet, picked up his pace, and sped off away.

Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, Gaeta quickly scooped them up and put them in his pockets. There was enough to at least get him a few freeze dried rations. With a little snow, he had some instant meals ready to eat. That settled one problem, but not his main one.

"All right, where exactly is the Magistrate hiding?" Figuring it was up to him, Gaeta began looking for any street signs. On the old worlds, they usually gave the location of a certain building on them. Market street in the city of Phoebos on Caprica, after two thousand years, was still the center of trade. If he could find one called Capital street, it would take him to the official's offices.

There was very little in the way of life at the space port. Only four ships were docked at the moment and two of those were dormant. In a way, this made Gaeta happy. His relatively few experiences with people outside of the military never ended well. Even his trips to the market, before he simply stopped going and had deliveries made, had made his jaw clench until he hurt. Comforting as it was, he still needed some people in order to make a living.

His wandering took him away from the space port towards what he could tell was the heart of down town Libero Prime, the former capital city. After the ratification of the articles of colonization, the capital had been changed to Deimos on the other side of the planet. Libero Prime now had a transient population of two-thousand people and a permanent of some twenty thousand. It were these facts and the lack of any major colonial military presence in the city that made him choose this as his destination.

The buildings had seen better times, but when the planet spent nine months out of the year covered in ice, keeping up facades was something of a luxury. Holding his coat closed over his body with his hands buried deep in his pockets, Gaeta scanned every building in sight. This would have been easier had he known what he was looking for.

Beneath his feet, the ground started to vibrate. Ice fell off buildings on either side of the street. Alarmed, he looked up in time to see a star liner coming down towards the port, lower than colonial regulations permitted. Star liners were cargo tugs that were banned for atmospheric use by city ordinances on most of the colonies for just this reason. Hands going quickly to his ears, Gaeta braced himself for the rush and roar of the massive ship's breaking thrusters activating.

He wasn't disappointed.

What was left of the ice on the buildings went down and a few windows even shattered as the massive vessel fired breaking thrusters. From what he could tell, they had cut it too damned close and were going to crash land. Either there was a problem, the pilot was drunk, or some asshole was trying to show off. What it amounted to; someone was going to get in trouble with the local constables. Constables meant the magistrate.

Turning on his heel, Gaeta ran back to the star port. If he waited long enough, a constable would come along to deal with the pilot of the star liner and he would be able to hitch a ride. What had taken him fifteen minutes to walk earlier was crossed in only two. Gaeta was amused by what a difference of having a goal made and how familiar it was.

When he reached the port, it was to find it in complete chaos. He had been correct about the star liner, the ship had slid off the landing pad, but was other wise undamaged. 'Showing off' it was. That meant someone was going to be arrested. The thought of seeing someone punished sent a thrill down his spine.

Tamping down on his euphoria, Gaeta slowed his pace down to a brisk walk. He reached the back of the crowd near the star liner's berth in time to see the loading platform lower. At the top of the platform stood two men in colonial military dress and a woman in an orange prisoner jumper. Lowering his head quickly, Gaeta avoided looking directly at them.

He backed away from the crowd, deciding it would be best to keep a low profile. Even as he moved away, the crowd rushed forward, shouting to know what was going on. Despite their noise, he could clearly understand the orders given by the Lieutenant to the people. He found himself wanting to respond to that voice, but it wasn't worth the risk.

Using his long practiced surveillance techniques, he watched the crowd shift as four men in black uniforms with gold symbols on their lapels came rushing in. They intercepted the lieutenants and their prisoner, taking the woman roughly by her bound hands. They tried to complain, but the apparent leader of the men held up a document. After a quick glance, the commanding lieutenant let them take the woman away.

Seeing his chance, Gaeta followed them at a distance far enough away that he could stop any time and pretend to be doing something else. Thankfully, once they had her, they weren't quite so quick to get back to the jail. When they rounded a corner, he picked up his pace to follow. He didn't get very far beyond it before he ran right in to the leader of the uniformed men.

Gaeta managed to keep his feet only out of years of practice. Being a natural klutz as a child gave him a good incentive to learn. As it was, the man in uniform grabbed him by the shoulders to steady them both, unnecessarily. Smiling for the man, Felix let his relief show. "Hello, I am new here. I was wondering, can you direct me to the Magistrate's office?"

Shackled to a desk waiting for the Magistrate to determine his fate was not how Gaeta planned their meeting. He hadn't technically done anything wrong and there were no official charges, but the man could still make trouble for him. One thing the Magistrate could do was exile him for being a public nuisance since he had no employment, no room, no ship, or any physical ties to the community. Another punishment were the work farms where the poor people went to get back on their feet, supposedly.

Apparently, Libero was strict on the homeless, something he hadn't known, but the constable was happy to inform him of. They justified it by saying someone without shelter could not survive the prolonged winter. While it made a sick logical sense, he understood all too well the real message behind it. If he angered the Magistrate, he would be sent to a 'rehabilitation camp' to 'help' him become a productive citizen 'for his own good'. Constable Herowen had practiced his speech often, Gaeta could tell from the quoting.

Uncomfortably shifting from side to side, he longed for a chair. He had been standing in the same place for the past four hours waiting for the Magistrate to come. Every time he asked one of the constables when he would arrive, they would smirk and say soon. After the third time, he had given up on any help from them.

Gaeta decided the first pay check he got from a job here, he would use it to get a seat on a passenger liner out of there. Even if he didn't get food for the trip, it would be worth the trouble of getting off Libero. It was no wonder people didn't come this way often. He should have at least guessed that something was wrong. After all, the rich liked secluded get aways for their vacations, that was Libero. What offended a rich person most? Poor people.

Just as he was about to risk cutting off circulation to his legs in an attempt to sit on his chains, the doors to the constabulary opened. A man who reminded him of the pig he'd liberated quebits from on Tauron came strolling through them, his arresting constable at his side. It wasn't a good sign the constable was smirking at him.

"You are Lieutenant Gaeta." The Magistrate glanced him up and down, taking in his physic with a disinterested air. Snorting, he cocked his head to the constable. "Get him to the transport before those morons from fleet command come looking for him."

Nodding, the constable walked over to Gaeta, the key to his shackles at the ready. He made a show of removing the anklets first. Glancing up at the surprised Gaeta, his smirk only grew. "You are lucky they had the currency, the Magistrate doesn't like deserters. Given your physical build and youth, hard labor would most likely have been the sentence."

"Deserter?" Then it came to him that the Magistrate had called him a Lieutenant. "I'm not with the Colonial Military any more. I resigned six weeks ago! I've done nothing wrong, you have no right to imprison me!"

"Be silent!" Smacking Gaeta on the ass, the constable shook his head. After he had unthreaded the chains from the eye hooks in the desk's side, he used the length of chain that had bound Gaeta's hands to his feet as a leash. When Gaeta refused to budge, he jerked on it hard. "Don't start with me, little boy. Warrant or no, I won't hesitate to give you a taste of Libero justice."

Reluctantly, Gaeta let the man lead him out of the constabulary and back on to the street. At the entrance, another constable met them with Gaeta's duffle strung over his shoulder. Gaeta knew nothing of great importance was in it. Other than his papers, all he carried were his clothes and those few quebits he owned. If he still had those, he would consider himself fortunate.

"Put it over his shoulder, he can carry it." The constable leading him pointed at Gaeta to signal where his bag went.

Gaeta was nearly strangled by how rough the man slung it over his bound arms and body. Before he could respond, the constable was dragging him forward again. After several hours in the constabulary, Gaeta had gotten used to the warmth. The bitter cold out side stung his eyes making them water, effectively blurring his vision. By the time his blinking had adjusted his eyes to the cold, the constable was slowing down.

They were at the star port and the Constable was leading him to a ship that hadn't been there earlier. He could tell from the shape it was a colonial Raptor. The coloring and emblem on the side made it abundantly clear what branch it belonged to. Gaeta began to wonder just what the hell was going on until he saw the man standing in the hatch of the shuttle looking at him expectantly. It was the man from the star liner.

He had been recognized.

Suddenly digging in his boots and jerking on his bonds, he pulled the constable almost off his feet. The man started to recover his balance when Gaeta jerked the chain back to him. Bringing up his foot in to the man's back, he sent the constable sprawling forward. Free of the constable, he turned to run. Whatever they wanted, they could do it without him. The frakking black ops division could go straight to the cylons for all he cared.

He had almost made it to the edge of the tarmac when a figure in a gray flight suit rammed in to him from the side. He rolled in to the fall, coming back up to his feet. Gaeta pulled up the chain with his hands, intending to use it as a whip if necessary. As the lieutenant raised a hand to show him he was unarmed, Gaeta took a step back. Black Ops didn't need a weapon to kill him, just to get close enough. "Don't come any closer, Lieutenant. I don't want to hurt you, but I will defend myself."

"Hold on a minute. No one is going to do anything to you." Keeping his actions slow, Lee tried to demonstrate for Felix that he was sincere. He smiled slowly. "I'm sorry, but saying you were a deserter was necessary to get you out. Your arrest was picked up on the wireless by my co-pilot. If we hadn't done something, you would be on your way to a forced labor camp now."

"Am I supposed to believe that bullshit? What are you really here for?" Making sure to keep the same amount of space between them, Gaeta searched for the other lieutenant. He hadn't seen the man any where, but he had to be around. In the distance, he could see the constable was starting to get up. If he didn't move soon, he would be seriously out numbered.

Taking advantage of Felix's distraction, Lee rushed forward. He knew the he would be hit by the chain as it came down, but it was an acceptable pain. When it came, his thoughts of tolerating the pain went out the window and any mercy he might have shown Gaeta went with it. Tackling the other man, Lee made sure Gaeta went down hard.

The wind knocked out of him, Gaeta's vision went dark for a moment as he gasped for air. For what felt like an eternity, he lay there gaping. His lungs burned and his ribs felt like they were broken. As he closed his eyes, he forced his body to relax and begin breathing again. The first breath hurt like hell and he let the world know by crying out.

Sitting up, Lee shook the dust from his hair. Seeing that Gaeta wasn't going to be moving for a while, he grinned. After a few leg and arm stretches, he knelt down beside the gasping man, picked him up by a leg and arm, then pulled him up over his shoulders. Standing with his burden, Lee's legs shook. "I have to get more time in the work out room!" Stumbling passed the constable, he ignored the man and went on to his Raptor.

Once at the Raptor, he dropped Gaeta on the flight deck and rolled him in to the ship. He turned and gave the constable a one fingered salute before walking up the ramp. Sealing the hatch, he gave Lieutenant Mobrey a thumbs up and grabbed his helmet. Lee barely had time to grab hold of the bulk head before the Raptor was shooting off in to the atmosphere.

Sitting up, Gaeta rubbed at his aching back and head. He would be bruised for the better part of two weeks, he knew from experience. Glaring over his shoulder at Lee, he twisted his back until the bones popped back in place. Now that he was no longer pinching a nerve, he could get in to a more comfortable position. He took the extra chair behind the pilot's seat so he could glare at Lee from a better position. "Where are we going?"

"Caprica. Now that Shyulera has been apprehended and turned over to the colonial authorities, our mission is complete." Checking the readouts on his instrument panel, Lee changed the settings for FTL use. After calculating the jump, he glanced over quickly to Gaeta. "I suggest you baton yourself down, we are about to make the jump."

Wincing as he moved sore muscles, Gaeta quickly slipped in to the seat's harness. It was nothing he hadn't done in basic training. The worst part was the post jump wave of disorientation. The first three times he had made one, they had a bucket handy. The fourth, he was the only one in his class not needing it, that was because he hadn't eaten anything that morning. Thus, he had earned the first passing grade in Commander Nokilosa's course.

Hearing the ship's power drain was the first signal the FTL drive was activating. Closing his eyes, Gaeta threw his head back against the head rest. The Raptor shuddered then he felt his body clench as the drive activated. A moment later his head exploded for an instant of pain then it was over. The FTL drive shut down and the ship was now cruising over what he assumed was Caprica.

Daring to open his eyes, he glanced out the forward window. He closed his eyes again the next instant, wishing he hadn't done it. Ahead of them, the planet was coming up to meet them at a rapid pace. They were not in atmosphere, yet, but that would soon change. Gripping his seat, he forced his sore chest to open and breathe deeply.

Chuckling, Lee watched Gaeta out of the corner of his eye. Keeping the main part of his attention focused on the instruments, he monitored the output on his controls. The moment they hit the atmosphere, he switched all his attention back to the controls. They were going in a little fast, but nothing he knew Mobrey couldn't handle. He was satisfied when the controls flashed green after a second and the Raptor leveled off.

"Course laid in. E.T.A. Athens Base, fifteen minutes." Flicking the navigational guidance over from centralized to planetary control, Mobrey let the ground personnel guide the ship in. It took a moment for the primitive on-board computer to recognize the new format and accept it. In that time, he had complete control of the Raptor. For that moment, he let it drop suddenly. Hearing Gaeta gasp, he chuckled. "Nothing to worry about, Lieutenant, just a little turbulence."

Instead of replying, Gaeta plotted his revenge. It would never come about, but to know he had a plan, just in case, made him feel loads better. There would be lots of pain, may be blood too, but not much. The man would scream a dozen times before Gaeta silenced him permanently. With that finished, he waited for the time to elapse and the Raptor to land.

After what felt like an eternity, Gaeta felt the breaking thrusters fire and the weight of gravity on them. The ship shuddered a little as it came down. When he felt the tell tale thump of the Raptor touching down, he released his breath slowly to stop his thumping heart. It wasn't much in the way of calming, but gave him something to do.

Shutting down the systems, Lee depressurized the Raptor and activated the hatch. When he had finished the post flight check, he clicked off the navigational console and unbuckled himself. Removing his helmet, he stood as far as the Raptor's ceiling would let him. Gesturing to the open hatch, he looked a Gaeta. "After you, Mr. Gaeta."

Slipping out of his own harness, Felix tentatively stood up and climbed out of the Raptor. He wasn't exactly sure what he was expecting, something to do with a security detail, but was surprised to find only a blonde waiting at the end of their ramp with a wide grin. She didn't look like any military police he had ever seen, more like a rocket jockey. As he walked down the flight deck of the Raptor, her eyes kept switching between him and Lee.

"So, this is the Daphne you kidnapped, eh, Apollo?" Grin growing wider, she inspected Gaeta's body as he jumped off the edge. A quick cock of her head to the side was followed by a sound of appreciation. "Wish I had a piece like that among my nuggets."

"Hands off, Lieutenant, the Captain here's got dibs." Patting Lee on the head, Mobrey slipped passed him to grin at Kara. Using her as a human shield, he avoided being hit by Lee's helmet.

As it was, Kara barely had enough room between Mobrey and the Raptor to dodge the flying helmet. "Hey! If you're going to involve me in killing this pain in the ass, at least let me get in a few cracks."

"Sure, why not." Cracking his knuckles, Lee walked towards Kara and Mobrey. "You hold him first."

"Oh, come on guys, what would be the fun in that?" Backing away as Kara turned on him, Mobrey held up his hands. Waving at them friendly, he grinned. "If you kill me, Lee, you won't get that promotion. You'll go to Tarterous on Geminon a lowly former Lieutenant."

Seeing that the three pilots were busy, Gaeta backed around the side of the Raptor slowly so as not to draw attention to himself. If he could just make it off the runway, he could fake his way off the base. Caprica wasn't much better than Pycon, but at least the fleet presence was minimal in comparison. He scanned the horizon for sign posts and sighed when he saw one. He really was at Athens Base, the largest pilot training grounds in the system. That was okay, it only made things a little harder, he could deal with that.

Holding Mobrey down by sitting on his chest while Lee plucked hairs from his stomach, Kara was having the time of her life. Where else would a man willingly kiss her ass, literally? After the tenth kiss, she sighed. He had completed the task and she started to climb off his chest. It was then she noticed something strange. "Hey, where'd your Daphne go?"

Tossing away the latest body hair, Apollo glanced over his shoulder. He had been about to say by the Raptor, but Gaeta was no where to be found. "Damn! He can't have gotten far."

"Apollo, if the Admiral finds out you've let a civilian loose on his base he is going to kick your sorry ass back to Pycon!" Climbing to her feet, Kara 'accidentally' stepped on Mobrey's gut. Putting a hand up to protect her eyes against the sun, she scanned the horizon. "He isn't on this side, he must have slipped around the Raptor."

"Then let's go find him!" Picking up his helmet, Lee ran around the Raptor and started searching. At first, all he saw was the usual base activity. Raptors and Vipers were getting ready for take off. Larger troop carriers were being hauled in to play for training exercises and one admiral's yacht was being prepped for launch. On a hunch, he searched the field around the yacht and saw a dark curly head among the ground techs. "He's trying to hide among the crew of the yacht!"

Running after Lee, Kara grinned. She did love a good chase. "We better catch him before someone catches on. If we don't, you're going to catch hell. Catch my drift?" Wagging her eyebrows at him as she matched his speed, she avoided his striking hand. "Come on, Lee, get a sense of humor!"

"He's..." Mobrey, three steps behind them, gasped, "just worried about..." He groaned in pain. "He's worried about the promotion!"

"Jeeze, Mobes, you seriously need to get in shape." Kara gave him a quick once over. "And I don't mean Pear either."

"That's real funny, Kara." Finally matching their speed as they neared the activity around the yacht, he grinned. "Found a man you haven't frakked yet?"

"Give it up, Mobrey, I told you, you aren't my type." She cuffed him upside the head and burst in to the crowd of ground personnel. "Excuse me, pardon me! Coming through!"

Lee was less courteous as he took the lead, he pushed people out of his way. He was ten feet away from Gaeta when a hose rose off the ground as it was attached to the yacht. He wasn't quick enough to jump it and tripped over it.

Hearing the pained grunt, Felix turned enough to glance over his shoulder. Upon noticing his tails, he started to move on. But seeing that Lee wasn't moving, he felt hesitant to leave him. He still had time to get out of there before the other two reached him if he left now. With a sigh, he rushed to Lee's side. Kneeling down, he reached out to check Lee's spine for damage. Finding nothing, he slid his fingers around Lee's neck to check for a pulse.

Through the pain of having the breath knocked out of him, Lee felt Felix's hand on his neck. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the boots and knew the owner instantly. He clutched at the hand desperately, pulling Gaeta's arm to his chest. Lee wasn't about to let him go again.

Seeing that Lee was just winded, Gaeta wrapped his free arm around Lee's chest and hoisted him back against himself. He knew he would regret this later, but right now, the other man needed his help. Easing Lee back against his chest, he unzipped the front of Lee's flight suit, undoing the collar. He gently massaged at Lee's ribs. "Just relax, Lieutenant, let your body do all the work."

Kara stopped far enough away to see that Lee wasn't being harmed, but still be out of range. The techs were giving her dirty looks, but she didn't care. It was amusing to see the stuffy Apollo being felt up on a busy tarmac. When Mobrey finally caught up to her, she put a hand over his chest to keep him back. "Watch."

For his part, Lee kept his eyes closed to ease the panic. The coincidental reversal of their rolls was bitter. Though, Gaeta had a devil's touch, he had to admit. Letting his head drop back on Felix's shoulder, Lee let himself enjoy the massaging of his ribs.

Gaeta frowned at Lee, but kept up his ministrations. Now that he had a better look at the man, he seemed familiar, but he couldn't place from where. It took Lee scrunching up his face in pain for Gaeta to remember. With a twist of Lee's nipple, he let the other man go.

"Ow! Hey!" Lee had to act fast to prevent himself from falling over when Gaeta released him. "What did you do that for?" Zipping up his flight suit, he rubbed at his now aching nipple.

"You were an ass!" Standing up, Gaeta started to walk away, only to run in to Kara and Mobrey. Putting up his fists, he took a defensive stance. "Out of my way."

Hands on hips, Kara cocked her head a bit, smile in place. "Well, usually people wait until they get to know him a little better before pronouncing judgement, but I got to say you hit the nail on the head." She slapped Mobrey in the gut when he started to say something. "Ignore him, as co-pilots, they are obligated to defend each other in public. I can't tell you the things Mobrey here has said about our little Adama."

"I'm right here, Kara, I don't understand why I have to keep reminding you of that fact." Limping up to them, Lee sent a glare at his friend. When the stiff looking Gaeta turned to him, he frowned. "What now?"

Gaeta watched him from under his brow. "You're an Adama?"

"Only by birth." Wincing as he rolled his shoulder, Lee didn't see it coming.

Thankfully for him, Kara did. She quickly wrestled the struggling Gaeta in to a shoulder lock from behind. "Whoa there! Hold on, we don't want anyone getting hurt now."

Lee was shocked by the sudden violent display. Keeping a safe distance even as Gaeta surged at him again, he jumped back. "What the frak is your problem?"

"Your family, that's my problem! You frakking Adama's think you own the colonies!" Gaeta tried once more to shrug himself free of Kara to no avail.

"So far I'm not hearing anything that we didn't already know." Kara grinned at Lee over Felix's shoulders. "Usually, people just call them asses and walk away. What's gotten under your skin, Daphne?"

"My name is... Was Lieutenant JTO Felix Gaeta!" At his words, Felix saw Lee's face go blank. When the other man nodded, Gaeta continued on. "I was top of my class four years running when a cadet named Zak Adama thought he would try something he wasn't authorized for during a training exorcise. He should have been washed out of basic training, but his old man pulled some strings. When I protested, the Commander failed me."

"And my father never forgave you, it's not in his nature." Lee lifted his chin quickly to signal Kara to let him go. He was prepared for Felix if he came at him again, but was glad when he didn't. Lowering his guard, he leaned on his good leg. "It's the reason I made a deal with the Magistrate on Libero for you. You wouldn't have been there if he hadn't done everything in his power to ruin your career."

Seeing Lee in a new light, Gaeta finally understood. He wasn't under arrest, it was guilt that brought him here. His arms ached where he had been held, and his chest still hurt from the fall on Libero. Sighing, he looked down at the ground for lack of a better place. "What now?"

Being the center of attention, Lee shrugged, then winced where his nipple rubbed against his uniform. "Uh, I think we head to the barracks. From there, we'll decided later."

Gaeta nodded. It would probably be the best offer he would get anywhere. Seeing that Lee was still in pain, Gaeta walked over to him. He took Lee's left arm and pulled it over his shoulders to help ease his weight off the bad leg. When Lee's arm clenched around his shoulder, bringing him closer to Lee's body, Gaeta felt something inside him clench in anticipation. He tamped down on it to examine later in favor of helping Lee walk.

Grinning, Kara clapped her hands together twice. "All right, grunts, show's over! Get your asses moving! This ship won't take care of itself!"

Slipping out of his jacket, Gaeta put it down on top of his duffle. How it had ended up here before they did, he wasn't sure. He was glad to find all his things were still in it, even the quebits the ass on Libero had thrown him. He pushed that memory from his mind, there were other more important things going on here.

Glancing over at Lee, he was glad they were the only ones in the room. The other man was stripping down and it was playing havoc with his attention. Every time he tried to think about those other important things, he kept getting drawn back to watching Lee. Eventually, he forced himself to look away. "So, uh, what are we going to do now?"

Sliding his shorts down, Lee winced. It was almost impossible to get out of clothes when injured. "I'm going to be grounded for the better part of a week because of this, so I don't know. To be truthful, after capturing Shyulera, I had planned some down time anyways. Then, when Mobrey heard about you over the wireless, I just acted. You set me back a thousand quebits, by the way. Bribes were cheaper when I was a kid." As his shorts slid off his body, he kicked them to the foot of his open locker.

"Zak is coming back in two days and I wanted to be as far away as possible." Snickering, Lee slid his fingers in the waist band of his boxers shorts before pushing them off his hips. "He and Kara go at it like cats and dogs every time he comes back from leave. Trust me, it isn't something you want to experience." Turning around, he grabbed a towel off his locker door and held it up. "Wanna catch a shower before we hit the road?" When he looked up, he saw Gaeta staring at him slack jawed and wide eyed. "Something wrong?"

Gaeta couldn't speak, so he shook his head no. Gods above, he would burn in Tarterous for this, but he stood up. His hands rose of their own accord to take the offered towel from Lee. Holding the towel close, he caressed it.

"Good, but I think you'll need to take your clothes off first, unless you have something to hide." Chuckling again, Lee grabbed his spare towel and wrapped it around his neck. "See you in the showers, Gaeta." With an innocent smile on his face, he strutted towards the showers and began to whistle.

Gaeta watched him until he turned the corner at the end of the barracks. Shuddering after Lee's ass disappeared from sight, he groaned. "May be this wasn't such a good idea." Stripping off his clothes quickly, he put them in the bag. It wasn't until he had his shirt off that he realized he still had on his dog tags. After five years, he simply forgot they were there, and it wasn't until now that he started to actually notice he had a body again.

Figuring there wasn't a point in taking them off, he tugged on them. If he removed them, he wouldn't feel like himself any more. They were an essential part of who he was, even though they no longer held the same meaning. His name was not Lieutenant JTO Felix Gaeta any more. He was once again regular old Felix Gaeta.

Grabbing his towel, being naked around Lee just didn't seem that big a deal any more. Gaeta walked to the end of the barracks and entered the shower. It was the smell and sound that did it. In the weeks since he had been discharged, he hadn't experienced a communal shower or the standard military issue cleanser. The surreal experience of it all caused him to stagger and clutch the tiled wall.

It really was over. His everything, his life as it had been, was gone. Nothing was ever going to be the same. Without his career, he didn't know who or what he was. When the tears came, he couldn't summon the strength to stop them. Instead, he slid down the tile to sit on the floor.

In alarm, Lee came over to kneel next to Gaeta. He put a hand on the man's shoulder in concern. "What's wrong? Are you injured?" Lee didn't expect to be enveloped in a tight hug, but allowed it to happen. Obviously, Felix needed someone to be there for him. What he was dealing with had become too much. Silently, he stroked Gaeta's back, holding him through the shudders that rocked his body.

Combing out his curling hair, Gaeta looked at himself in the mirror. For the first time since it happened, he started to feel like himself again. It wasn't much of a difference, but letting his hair grow felt like the right way to reflect the changes inside him. He knew from experience that in about six months the curls would be too much and he would have to get them trimmed. He looked forward to it.

Glancing to the right, he caught sight of Lee watching him in the mirror. A tentative smile graced his face for a moment before he let it go. Going back to his grooming, he rubbed at his chin. He would need to shave soon, the stubble was already visible. Seeing Lee moving, he looked at him.

Lee held up a pair of black boxer shorts. "They might be a little tight, but I noticed you didn't have any in your bag."

"What?" Sighing with disgust, Gaeta let go of his hair. It was hopeless until it got longer. "They must have kept them. Asses." He took the offered shorts and gave Lee the towel he had wrapped around his waist in return. Quickly, he pulled them on, snapping the waist line in place. They were tight in several areas, but would do. Scrubbing at his eyes, he yawned.

Grinning, Lee tossed the towel in to the clothes bin at the end of the wash room. It made it half in, hanging on the edge of the side. Shrugging, he turned back to see Gaeta yawn. Seeing Gaeta made him do it. Realizing how long it had been since he actually had sleep, he wrapped an arm around Gaeta's shoulders. "Come on, the rest of this can wait until tomorrow. I got a bunk that is singing to me with room for two."

As he was led by Lee, Gaeta felt a dopey grin start on his features. He felt exhausted, both physically and mentally, so sleep sounded nice. "What about the other bunks?"

"Oh, don't worry about them. They'll be gone until tonight, and by the time they get back, we will already have split." Waving it off, Lee dragged Gaeta towards the bunks.

"No, I meant isn't there an open bunk?" Yawning again, Gaeta trusted Lee to guide him.

"Well, Zak is the only one on leave, but I wouldn't let a rat sleep in that rat's nest." Snickering, Lee stopped when they reached his bunk. Using both hands, he pushed Gaeta down on to his bunk. "Just lay back and close your eyes, it'll be over before you know."

"How many people you told that to, Lieutenant?" Gaeta drowsily complied even as he spoke. Pulling the covers from beneath him, he slid his feet under them and laid down.

Lee let the remark slide as Gaeta started to fall asleep. There was a problem, though. "Scooch over!" He pushed Gaeta to the wall, then climbed in behind him. There wasn't enough for him to lay on his back, so he spooned up behind Gaeta. Out of habit, Lee slid his hand down the body of his bed mate and over his hip to lock with Gaeta's own. Before he knew it, he was fast asleep.

Holding his bag over his shoulder, Zak slipped in to the pilot's barracks. After a tropical depression had ruined the Ithycan weather, he had called in a transport and ended his leave early. It wasn't a total loss, he got a tan out of it. It was more than he could say for Lee, who seemed to constantly fluctuate between ghost and pale. Snickering, he took off his sun glasses in the darkened room.

If the lights were out, that meant Lee was back and in his bunk asleep. His older brother kept odd hours and raised holy hell if his sleep was interrupted. Since his holiday had ended in a bust, he might as well have some fun at his brother's expense. This required some stealth, so he took off his boots. Creeping along the bunks towards his brother's in socks, he prepared himself to jump on Lee.

What he saw when he came in sight of his brother's bunk made him grin. "So, the old dog wasn't neutered after all." Strolling over to his own bunk, Zak dropped off his stuff before veering over to Lee's. "Let's see who decided to fall for the ugly brother." Snickering, he picked up his flashlight and shown it over in Lee's bunk.

Lee was curled up pretty tight against the person, but there was no mistaking that arm. His brother was in bed with a man. Nothing innocent about the way his brother was holding him, or the fact they were naked, either. "Dad's going to love this." Sliding the light up the man's body, he stopped at the neck. The glint of a silver chain told him the man was at least in the military. Next, he tried to see if he recognized the face, but couldn't get a good look. All he could see were dark curls. "Brother likes tall, dark, and handsome. Strike that, dark and handsome, Lee and he are the same size."

Hearing something, Lee woke up from the wonderfully stimulating dream he had been having and looked around. Seeing it was just Zak, he flipped him off and snuggled back in the warmth of his bed mate. When Gaeta started to stir, he stroked his side and pressed his lips to his shoulder. "Shh, it's nothing." After kissing Gaeta's shoulder again, they both settled down and went back to sleep.

Zak looked up from his brother to see Mobrey entering the barracks. Gesturing at the men on the bunk, he raised an eyebrow. "How long has this been going on?"

"What?" Mobrey took in the bunk and his eyebrows disappeared in his hairline. "Damn, and I thought you moved fast. Guess it's genetic, which means I'll never learn it." Hanging his head sadly, he mimed at wiping away a tear. After a couple of huffy sniffs, he threw a thumb over his shoulder. "The gorgon saw your transport land, she wants to see you on the tarmac with the other nuggets."

"I'm not back five minutes and she is already riding my ass." Shaking his head in disgust, Zak opened his locker door, slamming it against the next one. No longer thinking about Lee, Zak jerked his shirt over his head and grabbed the uniform tank to put on. Nothing good could come of Kara sending Mobrey after him. After he switched out of his rec pants for the flight shorts, he grabbed the flight suit. "See you on the ground, Mobes." He slammed his locker shut and ran out of the room.

Waking up again, Lee frowned. This time he was more alert. Glancing about for the person who woke him, he glared at Mobrey.

Throwing up his hands, Mobrey shook his head. "Wasn't me that woke the all mighty Apollo from his slumber." Grinning, he nodded towards where Lee was wrapped around Gaeta. "Looks like you two got cozy fast."

"We were tired after the shower." Hearing Mobrey snickering, he grabbed the pillow and threw it at him. "Get your mind out of the drain. He's going through some tough times and unlike some people, I thought I would help him out."

"He's awake now." Rubbing at his eyes, Gaeta rolled over so that he faced Lee. Now that they shared the same pillow, they were less than two inches apart. Staring at Lee with a bored expression, he was sober for all of two seconds before snickering. "Sleep well?"

"Yeah, actually. At least until some loud mouths came in." Shooting Mobrey a quick look, Lee pulled the blanket up over his shoulders. He was too warm and comfortable to get up just yet. Besides, it had only been a couple hours and his leg still ached. While Gaeta continued to watch him, Lee settled down to sleep. "Mobrey, be so kind as to leave now, unless you've come to climb in your own bunk for a change."

"Aw, you know me, always finding someone else to share a bed with." Truth was, it wasn't a lot of someone elses, it was the same person. Turning to go, he paused in the doorway as he remembered something. "Oh, Lee, Boomer and Helo told me to tell you that as the new kids, it is their place to try and out shine everyone else. I believe her exact words were 'quit being a dick and stealing our thunder'."

"Tell Boomer she can ride Helo's red rocket to Vega if she is so inclined for all I care. Now get out." When Lee heard Mobrey's chuckling disappear, he cleared his throat and tried to get comfortable. He was almost there, ready to sleep, but something was off. Reaching out, he felt around for what it was. "Gaeta, roll over."

"Lieutenant, although I am highly flattered, I don't think it would be appropriate." Gaeta was giggling as Lee forced him to roll over and face the wall again. Sighing as Lee molded their bodies together, Gaeta felt the weakness of fatigue come over his limbs. Despite the strange feeling of being in someone's arms, he found he rather enjoyed it. In a way, it was comforting, even if it only lasted until he woke up.

Lee waited until Gaeta was asleep again before he moved. Pressing his nose in to Gaeta's hair, he felt foolish. He inhaled the scent of the other man, luxuriating in having to share the same pillow. With a contented smile, he closed his eyes and followed Gaeta in to sleep.

Pulling on his pants, Felix looked forlornly at his shabby clothing. The coat had been torn in several places, including the shoulder, and he didn't have any way to repair it. His only good pair of pants were the dress bottoms he hadn't worn since his last day as a cadet. He was wearing those now, but his other clothes were a lost cause.

Coming up behind Felix, Lee pulled on his own shirt. It was one of the few civilian clothes he owned on base. Pulling out an old style flight jacket and a shirt, he reached around Gaeta and draped them over his chest. "Put these on. The shirt might be tight, but the jacket was my mother's uncle's, it should fit."

Taking the shirt and jacket, Gaeta stared at them. "Why are you doing this?"

"Because it will upset my father when he finds out." Chucking the shirt he just had on, Lee pulled out another one. After he checked it for stains, he felt it reasonably clean and pulled it on. "You need help, I need a house boy, I am sure we can come to a mutually beneficial arrangement." His laughter increased as Gaeta spun to stare at him. "Kidding. Truth be told, I feel like doing it. What my father did was wrong and if I don't fix it, no one will. Everyone else around here will bend down and kiss his ass in a moment's notice."

"I don't need you to fix this. This is my life, my fight, I can handle it." He started to foist the jacket and shirt back on to Lee, but the other man stilled his actions with a hand on his wrists.

"Work it out on your own time. If it makes you uncomfortable, think of it as a favor. I do you one now and you owe me later." Releasing Gaeta's arm, Lee shook his head. "And if that doesn't work for you, the rent boy job is still open. I have to warn you, though, the pay is lousy, the hours long, and you'd spend a lot of time on your knees... scrubbing floors." Putting on his sun glasses, Lee grabbed his duffle bag and walked to the door.

Despite an overwhelming urge to drop the clothes and run for his life, Felix put on the shirt.

Lee's car wasn't his so much as his mother's. Switching off the radio the moment Gaeta flicked it on, he shook his head. "We don't touch that. Caroline Adama has been known to kill people for less." Checking the mirrors as they rolled in to traffic, he was glad to be out in the open road again. While it wasn't the thrill of flying in space, it did have its own unique flare. "We're heading in to Caprica City, my mother's family owns a building there and I keep a flat on the top floor. You can crash there until you get back on your feet. Don't worry about my father's stigma, this is Caprica City. Mentioning my mother's name opens more doors."

"You seem pretty attached to her." Watching as Lee smoothly guided the vehicle down the road, he was almost hypnotized by the weaving through the traffic.

Lee was silent for a minute. "My mother didn't deserve to be inflicted with my father. Granting her the divorce was the best thing he ever gave her."

"I dunno, some could make a claim you and your brother might qualify." In the mirror, Gaeta watched Lee's reaction. The clenched jaw said his host didn't think that. "What's caused you to hate him so much?"

"Listen, if I let you turn on the radio, will you stop asking questions and enjoy the ride?" Lee didn't give him time to respond, choosing instead to turn on the radio. Fortunately for him, it was classical ambiance that didn't irritate or draw attention to itself and he could ignore it. He didn't want to think about anything involving his father at the moment, it was bad enough he was having to clean up another of his messes. Zak's messes.

Facing forward, Felix thought about what was going on in his life. What this meant for him. He wasn't sure that what Lee said was true, but it wouldn't hurt to give it a try. The car lurched and for the first time he noticed the grace in Lee's driving was gone. After another jerk, he was thrown against the center console, his hand slid to Lee's leg.

For a moment, he sat their frozen. His fingers were there accidentally, a little further and they would be on the inside of Lee's thigh. It wouldn't be so bad, not much more different than serving under the man. Squeezing Lee's leg once, he withdrew back to his side of the car. He noted, with some relief, that Lee's driving had smoothed out again.

Lee refused to think about how being touched by Gaeta made him feel. There was already enough tension between them without need to increase it with a sexual fling. He didn't have time for a relationship with someone who wasn't in the military. Again, the pang of guilt flared up in him. He had to actively remind himself just because his family was involved, it wasn't his fault. Clearing his throat, he turned the wheel to follow the off ramp in to the city.

His speed increased the moment he hit the back streets, heading away from the water front towards the far side of the city. There was something exciting about flying between the buildings at a heart racing speed. Minute adjustments were needed to avoid trash cans, pedestrians, and the occasional parked delivery truck. All these he handled with barely a twitch of an eye.

For his part, Gaeta was clutching the console and his door handle for dear life. So tense, even his ass clenched in to the seat, desperate to hang on. When he felt Lee's arms suddenly drop on to the console, he glanced over in horror.

Grabbing what had appeared to be an innocuous gear shift, Lee grinned at Gaeta. "Brace for landing!" Squeezing the safety latch, he threw the gear back and the car immediately decelerated to a crawl. Thrown forward in his belt, Lee shouted with glee.

As he was thrown forward, Felix swore he saw his life flash before his eyes. Even he was disgusted by how boring and dull it was. If he died as the result of the lunatic beside him, he would rip him a new one. Settling back in his seat made him wonder just what the hell had he been thinking when he decided to trust Lee. Surely there were safer ways to die.

Pulling the car over to the curb, Lee put it in park and turned off the engine. "Fun, hunh?" Grinning at Gaeta, he pulled off his belt. He reached in the back and pulled out his duffle. "We're here."

"Great. Just, uh, let my stomach catch up, we left it about a ten miles back."

Felix's first thought upon entering the apartment was that Lee never lived there. Every thing was pristine. There were very few pieces of furniture in the way of living room pieces. Most of the space was filled with museum stands and cases. Entire walls were covered in glass boxes with back lighting to highlight their contents. Covering every spare inch of these displays were colonial military memorabilia. Cylon war era to be precise.

Having watched Gaeta's reaction, Lee gestured around him. "Welcome to the casa de Adama. This was my parent's place before. When I was a kid this entire room was off limits. We had to use the side entrance with the service elevator. Now, I come through the front door every time. It's almost like I can feel him growling in anger at me when I do."

Chuckling, Lee walked over to a wall with a full length woven tapestry. Touching the glass, he giggled. "This was his favorite. It's the BattleStar Galactica, his first assignment. Mom had it commissioned for his fortieth birthday. He'd kill me just for breathing on it." Smearing his finger prints on the glass, he walked over to another case.

Gaeta's breath caught when he took in the entirety of the ship. It made his chest ache to see the ship he had dreamed of serving on. Closing his eyes, he turned away. When he opened them again, he saw Lee watching him. "What?"

"You really wanted to serve under him." When Gaeta cast his eyes downwards, Lee walked over to the display case. Wiping his finger prints off it, he stood back to admire it. "Be glad you never got to know the real Commander. He's a heartless bastard if you aren't his favorite. You could never do anything to please him and every attempt would just make it that much worse for you."

Lee walked away from the display case, heading towards the only exit from the main room. "Come on, I'll show you around." He waited until Gaeta followed him in to the rest of the apartment before closing the door. He locked it behind him, dropping the key in a wooden box beside it. "To deny temptation is to remain strong."

"Temptation to do what?" Gaeta watched him. There was just something about Lee, he wanted to know him a little better.

"Throw it all away, of course." Lee didn't think about it, he couldn't care less. It was just something that existed, like the sky or the stars, it was. Remembering what he meant to do, he glanced around the rest of the apartment. Most of the place was bare of furniture too, this was by his choice. "I threw out most of the old stuff, Zak had a dog for about three days, it tore the hell out of everything. We just never replaced it because I was in the service and he was going in."

"How long have you had this place all to yourself?" The second living room, now the main one, held only a wooden couch with a few throw pillows and a television screen. It made Felix long for the dorms. There was entirely too much room in this one room for his liking.

"Mom moved out shortly after the divorce, left this to me and Zak. He was fifteen, so I was seventeen. Nine years." Counting off on his fingers, he nodded. "Through the far door is a bathroom. It only has a sink and toilet, mom calls it the powder room." Taking Gaeta by the hand, he dragged him across the room from the locked door to a double set of doors. "Close your eyes and make a wish."

"I don't think..." he trailed off as Lee put his hands over Felix's eyes. Sighing, Felix added this to another quirk in Lee's personality. Strangers seemed to fascinate him, he enjoyed shocking them, being a 'bad boy' despite his overtly 'good boy' image, he was at heart longing for his father's love. Psychology courses involved in officer training were really handy.

As he was maneuvered in front of the door, Lee behind him, Gaeta reveled in the heat of Lee's hands on his skin. When Lee made him move to the side by guiding him head first, he nearly tripped. The absurdity of it took hold and he chuckled. "Any time you are ready, Lieutenant."

Leaning in close, Lee whispered in Gaeta's ear. "Call me Lee." He removed his hands from Gaeta's face and opened the double doors. "You can open your eyes now."

Gaeta did so. His breath catching in his throat, he could do nothing but stare. Through the double doors was a large kitchen on the side of grand. What had caught his attention, was beyond the dinette set and the island in the middle of the kitchen. The large bay window was ten panels wide. Through it, the setting sun back lit the entire city of New Caprica and the ocean beyond.

Without realizing it, Lee's hands had settled on Gaeta's hips. "The apartment was valued at half a million quebits before they saw the view. I shudder to think what the family pays in taxes on this place." His world seemed to narrow in on the two of them. Not thinking what he was doing, his hands slid around Gaeta's waist. Tugging the other man against him, he lowered his head to Felix's shoulder. "The bedrooms are off to the left. There are four of them, the exit to the freight elevator is at the end of the hall."

Nodding, Gaeta allowed himself to relax in to Lee's touch.

"You can stay here as long as you like." After what felt like hours, Lee released Gaeta and took a step back. Running a hand over his hair to fix it, he frowned. This wasn't a good situation for either of them. He wasn't ready, not after what had been happening in his life recently. Sticking his hands in his back pockets, he faced Gaeta again. "Um, what is it you are thinking of doing, work wise that is?"

Gaeta had to think about it for a moment. There were few things he wanted to do now. He had had a back up plan if the tactical officer training fell threw. Turning to Lee, he made up his mind. It couldn't hurt to tell him. "Well, this morning I was looking for a job in security or government, something to pay the bills while I decided what to do next. Now? My back up plans, in case my dream career fell through, was to study genetics at the fleet's R&D adjunct."

"Right." Lee felt immediate relief at being able to focus on something else. Moving towards the hall off the dinning area, Lee offered Gaeta a grin. "I'll have a talk with my mother and see what we can do about that. You should hear from her from some time in the next couple days. In the mean time, I'll order up some basics to be delivered."

Following Lee with his eyes, Gaeta frowned. "Where are you going? Aren't you going to finish showing me around?"

"I think you can do the rest. Pick a bedroom, any room." Waving a hand over his shoulder, Lee fled to the door. "Oh, the spare key is here hanging on a hook above the door. When you need to go out, take it with you, it contains a device on a ring that automatically lets you by pass the security. Call me if you lose it, my number is in the directory!" With that he fled out the door. He didn't relax until he was in the lift going down. It was a close one, but he made it out without doing something he would regret later.

Eyes wide in shock, Gaeta stood watching the door for a while yet. After the sun had gone beneath the horizon, he carried his bag down the hall. He scanned the first bedroom he came across. In it he found mens clothing folded neatly at the foot of the bed. A faint sheen of dust on them told him the room hadn't been used in a long time. Judging from the size of the clothes, he could tell it didn't belong to Lee.

Backing out of the room, he let the door close and checked the one across the hall. This one was slightly bigger, it had a view out over the city like the kitchen but not as grand. He could see entire towers come to life with lights through this one. Setting down his bag, he walked over to the bed under the window and sat down.

The room was clean, the bed wide enough for two people. The floor was hard wood, but the imported rugs kept one's feet off them. There was a vanity across the room from the bed, the fading rays of light reflecting in the mirror. The door was next to the vanity on the right. Next to the bed, on the far wall, was a bureau next to what he assumed was the closet door. On the other side of the bureau was another door. It was open and he could see white porcelain inside.

The room had everything he needed.

Glancing over to the bedside table across the bed from his seat, he caught the image of a picture under the lamp. Leaning over the bed, he turned on the lamp to get a better look. The picture was of a younger looking Lee and what Gaeta could correctly assume was a bald Zak. Upon closer inspection, he could make out that Zak had a braid off the side of his head in what had been Luxor fashion. Gaeta could recall several of the boys in his class wearing their hair like that when he was a eighteen. He thought it was silly then and he thought it now. Smiling, he turned off the light.

This was the room he wanted.

Standing up, Gaeta picked up his duffle and carried it to the bureau. It wasn't until he saw the state of his clothes that he decided it was better to wait until he had mended them to put them in the bureau. Opening the top drawer, he checked to see if it was empty. The sight of a drawer full of Lee's underwear made him pause. Feeling like an intruder, he started to close the drawer, but stopped half way.

At the bottom of the drawer, he could make out the glass of a picture frame. Pushing aside the black underwear, he forced his mind not to think about them, and stared at the picture. It was of the Galactica, but a newer one than in the 'shrine', he could tell because the starboard landing pod had been replaced. The plaque at the bottom read Forty Years: Lest we Forget, which meant it was six years old. By his calculation, that would have been about the time Lee started his military career, twenty being the earliest age they let enter the academy.

Putting the underwear back over the picture, he closed the drawer.

The knocking was coming from the freight entrance, so Gaeta assumed it was another delivery person. Since the night before, there had been twelve of them, each with something new. The kitchen was now over stocked and the living room finally looked lived in. Passing the other two rooms, one of which was converted in to a library/guest room, the other being the master suit, Gaeta readied to sign for the delivery.

When he opened the door, he was surprised to see a blonde woman in a suit with a shark's smile staring at him.

Pushing passed Gaeta, she closed the door behind her. She took in the appearance of Gaeta, unshaven in one of Lee's longer shirts and his boxer briefs, with an amused smile that bordered on frosty. "I must admit you are a pretty one, when cleaned up that is."

Gaeta glanced to a level beneath her eyes composing himself for dealing with her. "Madam Adama, I assume?"

"Deductive, good, I would hate to think he brought home another brainless piece of ass." Chuckling to herself, she glanced up. "Oh dear, wrong son. Lee always had poor taste in women too, but with the good grace never to bring them home. I should hope that would change with the sex of the partner this time."

Gaeta kept his response to himself. He could tell she was waiting for a response from him. She was testing him. Deciding he would play her game, he grinned. "I should hope so." At her delighted grin, he added, "if he takes a man as his lover, that is."

"So he hasn't frakked you yet." Patting his cheek, she turned and walked in the apartment. "Give it time, dear, he was all Gaeta this, Felix that last night when he called." Caroline paused at the open bedroom door and snorted. "I see you've made yourself right at home. You had better be worth the price and my time, my dear boy."

She finished her inspection of the apartment quickly by glancing in to the living room through the open kitchen doors. Setting down her satchel on the kitchen table, she removed her suit jacket and draped it over the back of the chair. "Mr. Gaeta, please come and sit." Opening her satchel, she pulled out a computer and a folder of papers.

Gaeta put on his business air, preparing himself for a brutal examination. He had faced down the tribunal during fourth year, he could handle one woman. Or so he thought until he saw the computer. The sight of such advanced technology threw him for a loop. He had never seen anything quite like it and it caused conflicting emotions in him.

Caroline caught his look and smirked. "Beautiful, isn't it. It's not quite as advanced as the one my parents had before the war, but it serves its purpose. Don't worry, I understand the military beats a kind of technophobia in to its people, so I will handle it for now." Lifting up the screen, she began clicking the keys to activate it.

Taking a seat as far away from the computer as possible, Gaeta composed himself again. That was three times she had unsettled him. This was getting sloppy. He took a moment to normalize his breathing before looking at her again. "Where do we begin?"

"How far did you get in your private studies with genetics? Your test scores from your pre-academy university were inconclusive. I need to know before I can make a recommendation." Bringing up the information on her computer, she quickly glanced over his profile.

"I, uh, was working on human genetics. My field of interest was human reproductive cells and replicating them." While she typed away, he summoned what he could remember. It was hard to think about it in human terms, ways to explain it without sounding like he was quoting a manual. "I was studying Dr. Shenkar's research, more specifically, making artificial human gametes using nano technology."

"Dr. Shenkar, leading theorist on human genetics including infertility, causes and solution. His work has since been banned by the Science Council of Ministers. His conclusions were considered too controversial for humanity given the level of advancements required in machines." She looked up at him over the monitor. "Pick another field, you're already in trouble with the government."

Gaeta stared at her. Was she kidding?

"I don't have all day, Mr. Gaeta. Either you pick a field or I leave and recommend to Lee that he throw you back where he found you." Her tone brokered no resistance. He would comply or she would do as she stated.

"Robotics." Grinning at her, he tried his own test of her sense of humor. When she merely raised an eyebrow, he cleared his throat and looked away again. "I was trained as a Tactical Officer for a battlestar. My skills include management, technological encoding, combat engineering, and a myriad of minor abilities necessary as third officer on a battlestar."

"I am well aware of your military training. My son has informed me of your skill in that arena." She was surprised by the angry look on his face, but kept her own expression inquisitive. "You have something to add to that?"

"Your son is incompetent. He has no business aboard a battlestar, let alone in the military. I said it then, I say it now. I am surprised you, an obviously intelligent person, would base your opinion upon a bitter malcontent." Standing from his seat, he stormed out of the kitchen. In the bedroom, he grabbed up his duffle. He knew it was too good to be true, the whole thing was humiliating. He had been willing to submit himself to her examination on good faith and she was just another nepotistic bitch.

Gaeta was throwing his newly patched clothes back in his duffle when Caroline appeared in the door way. Her expression was pissed, but he couldn't give a shit. After grabbing the last of his clothes from Lee's bureau, he shoved passed her. "Excuse me!"

Walking in to the kitchen, he headed for the clothes washer on the far side under the cabinets. His clothes were still wet, so he stuck them in a plastic bag. Tying it up, he shoved it in the duffle. When he pulled the clothes out of the dryer, he pulled on a pair of pants. He would worry about finishing up his clothes in the elevator. After he stuffed the rest in his bag, he tightened the draw string and buckled the flap. Shouldering it, he marched to the door and slipped his boots on.

As he opened the door, he turned to send another glare at Caroline. "I think I understand now why your husband never spent any time at home." With a resounding slam, he closed the door and marched over to the freight elevator. He slid the protective grates down on the lift and hit the down button. As it went down, the door to the apartment opened, but he turned his back on it. If he had to look at her one last time, he would likely get violent.

Caroline Adama was worse than her ex-husband. At least he hadn't done anything except ruin his career. Caroline Adama had come down from her mighty perch and called in to question everything he was. He didn't have to take that from anyone, let alone some bitter old hag. By the time the lift hit the bottom, he was shaking and close to tears. Fisting his duffle strap, he stepped out in to the back lobby of the building and in to the early morning. The lift went back up as he let the door to the lobby close behind him.

Waiting on the side walk was a man in a white uniform, searching the building. Seeing Gaeta, he started towards him, but stopped when Gaeta took an attack posture.

"Stay away from me or I will hurt you." Gaeta was in no mood to deal with some frakking Adama lackey, which this man was given his uniform and the large automobile waiting at the curb. Circling around the man to keep a safe distance between them, Gaeta made sure to keep his attention around him just in case there was another one. The bitch up stairs probably called him and warned him to hold Felix. Well, this was one demand she wouldn't get taken care of.

When he was on the side walk, Gaeta tossed aside any pretense of attacking and made a run for it. He was half a block away when the guard decided to act. Putting all his strength in his lope, Gaeta picked up to his top speed. He knew he could go faster if he dropped the bag, but it held everything he needed to survive, including a couple weeks of supplies. On instinct, he clutched the bag to use it as a weapon if necessary.

Dashing across four lanes of traffic, Gaeta saw his chance. Just down the road was a large gathering that began under a sign that said Riverwalk Market. It would be the perfect place to disappear.

Lee was in the middle of doing a leg curl with his sore leg when Mobrey entered the gym. Lowering his leg at the haggard expression on his friend's face, Lee sat up. "What happened?"

"It's Gaeta." Pushing Lee back down as the man tried to stand up, he shook his head. "Your mom tried her old routine on him. She said he exploded when she said something about his career and he just took off."

"Where is he?" He shoved off Mobrey's hand when he tried to keep Lee sitting. "I said, where is he?"

"We don't know. Her driver tried to catch up to him, but a car and he panicked..." Shaking his head, Mobrey let his hands drop to his side. "The driver said couldn't follow him in time to catch up. By the time your mother got there, he was long gone. She's having a melt down, man. I wouldn't be surprised if she even called the Commander."

"Frakking damn it all to hell!" Standing up from the mat, he limped his way to the handset. Picking it up, he waited for the comm officer to respond. "Patch me through to the Adama residence in Memphis Towers." Waiting for his mother to pick up, he angrily clutched the handset. By the time someone did answer, it was cracking in his grip. "Aunt Morla? Where is my mother? I don't give a frak, put her on the extension!" Lee stared at the handset in anger when the line disconnected.

"Lee, forget it. It's over." Clutching his friend's shoulder, Mobrey tried to calm him. When he was eventually rebuffed, he continued to stand beside Lee. He knew the other guy had started to form a connection with Gaeta and didn't want his friend to hurt. Not again.

Dropping the handset, Lee limped from the gym. He was no longer interested.

Clutching his coat closer about him, Gaeta prepared to climb out of the car and in to the rainy night. Before he did, he glanced over his shoulder again at the man who had given him a lift. "Thank you, sir, I'm not sure if I can ever repay you, but consider me in your debt."

"Not at all." Blowing out a puff of smoke, Baltar grinned. "It was my pleasure. It was interesting to meet someone else who had studied Dr. Shenkar's work in bioengineering. If only we had been alive fifty years ago, imagine what we could have accomplished."

"I know what we could have accomplished, Dr. Baltar, and frankly, it concerns me. But that will have to wait until another time." Clutching the card in the palm of his hand, Gaeta glanced down at it. On it was written a personal recommendation from the Doctor for him. It might be just another business card, or it could be a job he could be proud of. "When I get settled, Doctor, I will give you a buzz and we can discuss this further if you like."

"Of course." Watching as Gaeta climbed out of the car, he sighed. The door closed and he watched Gaeta run across the parking lot to duck under the awning of the homeless shelter. "If only you were born a woman, my dear, what a couple we would have made. Then again, I suppose it's a good thing you were born a man. I don't think I could have respected someone I slept with quite so much." Putting his car in gear, he drove it across the parking lot and away from the shelter.

Driving along the road back towards Caprica City, Gaius hummed along to a song he had heard earlier in his head. It was probably some pop trash, but right now it seemed appropriate and his brain wouldn't let him forget it. There was only way to get over not getting laid, that was getting laid. As if in answer to his prayers, he saw a woman standing by the road, her hand up and her clothes soaked through. Looking upwards as he pulled over, he thanked his lucky stars. "Need a lift, my dear?"

Blinking away the rain drops, the blonde smiled. "Thank you, I would like that." It took her a second to figure out how to open the car door before climbing in. Folding her long body in the vehicle, she closed the door and turned pouty lips on him. Leaning across the console as he swallowed, she grinned. "Are you alive?"

It had been three weeks. Three weeks since his life had been turned on end again. Lee felt his heart beating, but little else.

His mother had tried several times to contact him, but he had ignored her each try. Even the Commander had sent him a message, but he burned it without even glancing at it. There wasn't a point, he knew what it would say. He had defied the old man once more, lots of disappointment, call your mother.

Frak them.

That's why, when he saw Kara standing with a big grin on her face on the tarmac after his first mission since Gaeta, that he almost told her frak off. He wasn't in the mood to deal with her shenanigans. As it was, he told Mobrey to do it for him. Climbing out of the Raptor, he tried to avoid Kara, but she was like a dog with a bone and ran up to him. When it looked like she wasn't going to be deterred, he looked at her in askance.

Holding up a slip of paper between her index finger and thumb, she grinned. "How much do you absolutely want to marry me and have my babies?" At his glare, she rolled her eyes. "We found him!" She didn't get passed found before he had snatched the paper from her hand.

Unfolding it, Lee read the contents of the message three times before it sank in. Gaeta was alive. He was working at..."the Apollo Medical Center in Delphi City? You have got to be frakking kidding me."

"Nope!" Chuckling, she wrapped an arm around Lee's shoulder. "So, Fare Apollo, shall you continue to chase your Daphne or let him surrender to his fate?"

"Don't you have a group of pilots whose asses you need to bust?" Grinning despite his words, Apollo picked up his pace to the barracks. He had a car to catch.

Walking in to the Oncology wing, Lee began to scan for Gaeta. He had been told the man had a job here as a lab assistant for the past two weeks and could be seen collecting samples regularly from the nurses. They would meet him in the corridors and he would take it back to be examined by the lab techs. It wasn't much of a job, from what he gathered, but it paid better than most jobs.

There was also the added bonus of being around the people Gaeta wanted to study with. That had almost stopped him from coming here. If Gaeta was happy, he wanted him to remain so. It would ease a lot of the burden of guilt he felt. He would simply turn around and go away if Gaeta seemed content in his work.

That flew out the window the moment he rounded a corner and saw Gaeta bent over tying his shoe, ass in the air. What caught his attention were the black boxer briefs sticking out of the top of the green scrubs. Smirking, he sidled up behind Gaeta, keeping an eye on the man's ass. "Excuse me, but I'm missing an entire drawer full of black underwear, do you know of where I might find them?"

Freezing, Gaeta slowly straightened up. Turning around, he stared at Lee in shock. "Lieutenant, what can I do to help you?"

Realizing he was still in is flight uniform, Lee unzipped the top of it. He didn't miss the way Felix's eyes followed the zipper. "Yeah, I'm looking for a runaway drawer of underwear. Seems they went missing about three weeks ago and haven't bothered to check in."

"Well, have you filed a missing underwear report? I hear they take time, but you might get them back." A half amused smile curved his lips before he bent over his sample cart. Grabbing the handle, he began pushing it away from Lee.

Lee gave pursuit, not intending to lose the man a second time. "Well, it would help if they had any known anuses, balls they might hang around, any tight asses they would frequent, things of that nature."

"I assure you, I wouldn't know." Felix was pulled up short by Lee's finger running along the waist band of his underwear.

"Well, what have we here? It seems I'm going to have to report you as an accomplice." Giving the underwear a tug, he grinned at Felix, who had turned to stare at him. "You do know harboring runaway underwear without reporting them is a crime, right?"

Rolling his eyes, Gaeta nearly gave in to the urge to laugh at Lee. Who knew pilots were so damned ridiculous? "Oh, gee, Mr. Lieutenant, whatever can I do to keep your silence?"

"Well, you could have dinner with me." Sliding his hands around Gaeta's waist, feeling up the band of his underwear all the way to the front, Lee leaned in close. "Nothing formal, just a nice, quiet dinner at a venue of your choosing."

Having had enough, Gaeta grabbed Lee's hands and pushed them off his clothes. Pulling up his scrubs to cover the underwear, he started off. At the corner, he paused long enough to turn and nod at Lee.

Sudden elation filled him. He had a date, nothing firmly set, but it was a start. Zipping up his flight suit, Lee strolled back out of the hospital wing and towards the exit. Things were looking up.

Shivering under an awning staring out over the ocean, Lee kept his jacket pulled close to him. It had been raining non stop for the past three days and looked to continue for a while yet. For the thousandth time he questioned what he was doing out here. This entire thing was crazy, but for reasons he didn't care to think about, he was willing to put himself out on a limb.

Coming up behind Lee, Gaeta smiled as he watched Lee hunker down in his jacket further. "Sorry I'm late, the traffic on the north bound road from Delphi City was murder."

Spinning, Lee's teeth chattered as he watched Gaeta come around a bistro table. His outfit wasn't the most flattering, but it was far better than the scrubs he had been wearing the last time they met. He couldn't help the smile that spread across his face as Gaeta showed him the band of his underwear. "I guess I'm never going to get those back."

"Only if you marry me and you forget to invite your mother." Gaeta took Lee's hand between his own gloved ones and rubbed it furiously. "We need to get you warmed up. I think they sell an herbal tea in here that might be passable."

"Only our first date and already you are talking terms of marriage. I must be out of my mind for agreeing to do this." Enjoying the way Gaeta was alternately blowing on his hand and rubbing it, Lee felt a comfortable malaise come over him. It felt good, he felt good. "If you really want to warm me up, I got a much better way in mind."

"I'm not sticking my hand down your pants no matter how prettily you pout." Grabbing Lee's other hand, he stuck them under his arm pits, using his hands to rub Lee's arms. "A small trick they taught us in survival training."

"Sure it is, and I really am one of the Lords of Kobol." He chuckled when Felix's hands stopped moving. Squeezing his own hands around Felix's chest, he began to massage the other man.

"I knew it, you really are intent on having your way with me." Lifting his shirt, Gaeta threw back his head. "Take me, I'm yours!"

For a minute, all Lee could think about was sliding his hands down that body. He wanted to run his fingers down the treasure trail to see if he really could strike gold. Biting his lip, he took a deep breath to steady himself. He could do this. "Been too long since I got laid."

"Since you... Trust me, no one is more desperate than me, but if I can wait, so can you, Lieutenant." Letting his shirt drop, Gaeta possessively wrapped his arm around Lee's and started them walking side by side down the walk. Tangling their fingers, he grinned at Lee. "Close your eyes and make a wish."

Giddily caught up in the moment, Lee complied without hesitation. When he heard the snick of metal on metal followed by the snap of something opening, he opened his eyes. Above them, Gaeta had opened an umbrella to protect them from the rain. "I wondered how you had come here dry."

"I don't suppose you'd believe I was just so fast I could run between the rain drops?" They both laughed as they stepped off the curb in to the almost deserted street.

"Speaking of my mother, don't worry, I'll handle her." Lee ignored Gaeta's frown, turning instead to pick a flower from a bush they passed. Smelling it, he handed it to Gaeta. "My mother thought she was dealing with another of Zak's girlfriends. I'm not making an excuse for what she did, just explaining why she did it. There is no justifying her behavior towards you."

Having looked away when Lee spoke of justifying, Gaeta nodded. "Still, don't ever expect me to sit down and play nice."

"Now, never say ever. If we do get serious, you'll have to meet her again some day. She may be on my shit list right now, but I still love her very much." To stop the other man from pulling away, Lee squeezed his hand and jerked him close. "Come on, surely you've dealt with an over protective mother before."

"Not once." Gaeta sniffed the flower once more before running it down his cheek. "My own mother was killed in a pirate raid when I was a baby. No one knew who she was because the ship was unregistered and they didn't exactly leave the bodies identifiable." He gave a soft snort. "My family were the marines who found me. I was raised aboard the BattleStar Olympus until she was decommissioned."

Swallowing, Lee felt himself go numb inside. He didn't want to imagine losing his parents. Frowning, he started to recall what he could of the Olympus. "Uh, wasn't she the second to last original BattleStar?"

"Yes. In the end, she had to be towed to the salvage yard because the damage was too extensive." They were silent a few minutes, continuing their walk back to the bistro.

Something occurred to Lee. "I think I get it now. Serving aboard the Galactica would have been like coming home to you."

"Exactly, but that's all gone now." Feeling his good mood evaporate, Gaeta scowled at the passing cars. They had been out until early the next morning and he had to get back to the stop before the bus left. "We're almost there, I guess we should say something meaningful now."

"Not really." What Gaeta had already said started the wheels in Lee's head to moving. Glancing up at his companion's face, he smirked. "I've got a surprise for you. It's going to take a few weeks, but I promise it will be well worth it."

Gaeta glanced over to Lee before snorting. "I can't wait."

"Too bad, you're going to have to." When he looked ahead again, he saw they were at the bistro and a bus was coming up the street.

"My chariot comes, Phoebos Apollo, I must go." Spreading his arms, he stretched out ahead of them. "I must go!"

"But fair Daphne, grant me but a kiss and I will be yours forever." Lee couldn't hold the laughter in at Gaeta's expression of distaste. "Just one and then we can say good night."

"Just one." Stepping up to Lee, Felix stared him straight in the eyes. "Just one and then I must go."

"Just one."

Upon receipt of his fifth paycheck, Gaeta had enough currency to get the hell off Caprica and bought a transport ticket. Libero, Tauron, Pycon, and now Caprica, were all out from his consideration. Sagitteron was a primitive back water world in comparison to the rest of the system, but it held promise. Political strife made it a welcome trade for someone who was on the outs with both those who had ties to the government and now the military.

He had been content to stay in his position for a few more weeks, but that changed this morning. He had come off his late night shift early enough to get home before the sun rose. It was the only reason he hadn't been spotted. There were a half dozen men in colonial military uniforms stationed around his building. Glad that he had taken the precaution of keeping his clothes in the duffle over his shoulder, Gaeta simply altered his course and walked away.

Since he hadn't an account, there was no reason to visit a bank. The bottom of his bag was heavy with quebits. This time, he planned ahead better. Part of that was in lining up contacts through friends of Dr. Baltar. Friends were a generous description of the man's contacts, more like past conquests.

Waiting in line with the rest of the passengers for the passenger liner Mingvar, Gaeta shifted uncomfortably. He hadn't slept in twenty-four hours and was feeling every minute of it after the initial adrenalin had worn off. The ticket lady hadn't said a word about his appearance, just wanted his money and then handed over the paper ticket to feed the reader at the launch gate.

For the life of him, Gaeta couldn't imagine why the colonial military was after him. He had done nothing to warrant their attention, at least nothing they could prove. Dabbling in the medical sciences was hardly a crime. He had learned enough at the Apollo center to know he wanted to learn more.

Aside from the political strife and military free zone, there was an academy of sciences on Sagitteron. One of his new contacts was in residence. Having sent him a letter weeks earlier, he had paved the way for an eventual transfer. Events, being as they were, he was simply going earlier than expected.

"All passengers of the Mingvar Express to Sagitteron, we are now boarding. Please have out your boarding passes and follow the yellow lines. For your convenience..."

Gaeta tuned out the rest of what the woman had to say, choosing to focus on the line as it moved instead. In thirty minutes he would be on Sagitteron starting over yet again. This time, it was by choice. For the first time in three months, he felt like he would be okay. As he stepped up to the gate entrance for the boarding, he held out his ticket.

Taking his ticket, the clerk smiled at him. She inserted the ticket in her reader, and clicked a button on it. Handing it back to him, she gave him another brilliant smile. "Have a safe trip, Mr. Adama."

"I will, thank you." Tucking the ticket in his jacket, Gaeta walked through the gate and passed the security personnel.

Rising from his seat at the tribunal's table, Lee spun to face the entering marine captain. He looked expectantly at the man. "Well?"

Saluting Lee, the captain shook his head. "I am sorry, Captain Adama, but we were unable to locate him. It seems he may have fled the area already."

"Fled implies he was under arrest." Anger rising in him, Lee felt his temper make his voice clipped. "Let me guess, you arrived in full force, staked out the building?"

"It is standard procedure." Standing at attention, the guard looked straight ahead to avoid Lee's glare. "We did as instructed, it is not my fault if he..."

"He what?" Lee scoffed. This man actually thought he should be grateful to him. "Saw your troops and thought he was being hounded by the same agency that had forced him to resign in the first place? Made him think that may be he was being sought out as a deserter after all? No, you didn't think at all, did you?"

"Captain Adama, that will be quite enough." Sighing with disgust, Admiral Yempelios closed the folder that had been set in front of him. Pushing it away, he glanced to the Commanders on either side of him. "If the petitioner can not be found, we will have to close this subject."

"What? No!" Leaving the marine captain, Lee ran around his table to stand in front of the admiral. "Sir, please, you can't!"

"I am afraid, if he will not come and stand up to these allegations, we can do nothing about it." Rising from his own seat, the Admiral took off his glasses. "Now, unless you know where the Lieutenant is, this matter is closed."

"You can't." Lee closed his eyes and took a cleansing breath. "He didn't bring the case, I did, but only on his behalf. Sir, Lieutenant Gaeta was forced to resign his commission, I know it."

"This is highly suspect, but due to the circumstances I will allow you some leeway. Do you have any proof?" The admiral knew what he needed from the way Lee's jaw set. "Very well. Case closed!" Banging the gavel, he left the tribunal table. On his way to the door, he stopped and gave Lee a heartfelt smile. "Congratulations on your promotion, nephew."

"Thank you, sir." Saluting the admiral, Lee stood at attention until the man left the room. He had hoped to surprise Gaeta with this. It would have been the first meeting that opened an investigation in to his father's actions. Even if they had failed, he would have stood up to his father, let him know that what he did wouldn't go unanswered.

As it was, Lee gathered up his briefcase and headed for the door. He had a missing man to find.

"You will be given a room on campus until you can provide accommodations for yourself. Lab hours are seven in the morning until eleven at night. In between time is for maintenance personnel only. I expect you to be at my side no later than eight in the morning for daily orientation before classes start." Adjusting his glasses, Dr. Atrius used his cane like a pool cue to knock some books in to Gaeta's lap. "Read these, you have a month to prepare for my class. As my assistant, you must be knowledgeful of all these things and much, much more."

Catching them before they could fall on the floor, Gaeta gratefully accepted the books. He hadn't anticipated the professor as being from the pre-cylon era, but could appreciate this for what it was. Then again, he should have. The man had studied Dr. Shenkar's work and expanded on it. "Sir, if I may ask, when will I be allowed to begin work on the genome project?"

Rubbing at his chin, the frail looking old man blinked. His thick glasses magnified his eyes making him look nothing so much as a blue eyed lizard in Gaeta's opinion. "It is only because of our mutual friends that I have allowed you to come here, Mr. Adama. Do not be so quick to impose yourself upon my research. If, and I do mean if, I ever allow you access to it, you have to have a great deal more than just a passing interest in genetics."

"Unless you can offer me a position on a battlestar, I hardly think that will be a problem." His words were deadly serious, but Gaeta followed them up with a pleasant smile. It was always a good way to reassure people. "The government's actions regarding Dr. Shenkar's work were premature and ignorant at best."

"Yes, I understand you believe that, but you never told me why." Shifting in his seat, Atrius put one leg up on his desk to stretch it and relieve the cramps in the calf.

"Let's just say they are personal and leave it at that." He wasn't about to tell the man what he suspected. If one man could not only flesh out some of Dr. Shenkar's theories, but improve upon them given limits on existing technology, then he had to be careful. "Dr. Atrius, I promise you this, nothing I believe will make me betray your confidence."

"We'll see, Mr. Adama, we'll see."

Throwing his gear on his new bunk, Lee kicked his footlocker in anger. His new commander was a pure dick. Just because Lee was the son of the great Commander Adama, he expected him to make miracles. When he didn't, Lee was treated frostily and told to spend more time in the simulators. The man was fast becoming a problem for Lee and he would soon see the end of it, one way or another. As it was, he had already put in for a transfer.

Two weeks on the garbage scow ironically called the Argo and he was ready to just say frak it. But, the commander of the ship wasn't the only source of his problems. Being posted on the rim, he didn't have full access to his resources. The search for Felix had yielded nothing in the month since he disappeared. Then he had been transferred here and any communiques were routed through a commander who decided what was necessary for his crew to function. Needless to say, private communiques were denied more than once.

That's why, when he saw the envelope on his bunk, he almost thought it was a mirage. Tentatively, he reached out for it as he sat down. When his fingers made contact, he quickly snatched it up. He saw there were dozens of post stamps on it. Judging from their dates and location, the letter had been circumnavigating the system looking for him. He didn't recognize the writing, but it didn't matter, he knew who it was from.

Gently prying open the seal, he pulled out the letter and unfolded it. Taking a deep breath, he began to read. "Apollo. Over the past few weeks since our date, I know we have kept in touch, but there was something I wasn't telling you. I have been indulging my passion and have decided to earn my degree, possibly a doctorate. I had hoped to surprise you with this when you gave me your surprise as it would mean a more stable living arrangement.

"Despite my plans, something came up and I was forced to step up the time table. I am confident that once I am settled in my new home that I will make time to contact you further. If I am unable, to find me you must follow the route of Artemis during the winter solstice. Look through the gateway to the stars for FGA. Trust in science, it will guide you. Yours in trust, Daphne." After rereading the letter to himself, Lee folded it up and put it back in the envelope.

"Daphne, hunh? Sounds kind of snooty, though that might be right up your alley." Snickering to herself, Lieutenant Ulterra pulled on her uniform tank. Tossing her hair over the edge, she settled the tank. "Explains why you haven't so much as given any of us a second glance. Which is good, because we were starting to think the commander was right."

"About what?" Stashing the letter in his footlocker, Lee slammed it shut and locked it.

"That you thought you were too good for us." Pulling her blonde hair back in a bob, she grinned at Lee in her mirror.

"What makes you think he isn't right?" Storming out of the pilot's bunk, Lee ignored her shocked look. He had a comm officer to deal with and a possible mutiny to start.

The first explosion rocked the academy of sciences at ten in the morning local time. Shortly afterwards all hell broke loose. As marines poured over the campus, they shot first. Students and faculty alike were mowed down in the sudden chaos. A moment after the second blast, alarms across the campus echoed.

Riding high on an intercept course, twelve Vipers flew over head, their orders were to shoot down anything that tried to escape. They got their first taste of action a short time later. Rising from the ground, a civilian transport tried to make a run for it. Following orders, the lead pilot blew out the engines. Taking pity on the crew, he destroyed the craft rather than let them suffer a crash.

In the bio-labs, the few techs, professors, and associates involved in the project gathered their data. Downloading it in to a central memory archive, they threw the hard copies in to the lab's incinerator. Not a one thought they would survive the next hour, but their work had to make it out. Among their number, Felix quickly encrypted the data as it was uploaded to the mainframe.

As the last of the discs were inserted to the drives and the data processed, Dr. Atrius grabbed his assistant by the arm. Despite his advanced age, his grip was firm and steady. "You must ensure that it reaches Dr. Hemmo on Tauron! He is the only one who can make sure this reaches those who can do something about it. They have to know what we have discovered!"

"I'm sorry, but I can't do that." Freeing his arm from Dr. Atrius, Gaeta hit the last button to lock off the drive.

"Why not?" Hurt by Gaeta's actions, Dr. Atrius frowned. "You volunteered, don't back out now, son!"

"I can't because Dr. Hemmo is already dead." Before the old man could figure out what he was doing, Gaeta quickly unhooked the memory core from the upload drives. He snatched the three foot long, cylindrical drive from it's base and placed it in the carrying case. Taking it, he moved towards the door.

"Stop him!" Finally starting to realize something about this whole situation was wrong, Dr. Atrius signaled for the other people in the lab to intercept Gaeta.

Pulling a gun from the back of his belt, Gaeta shot the closest lab tech in the forehead. Backing towards the door, he clutched the case to him. As he crossed the threshold in to the environmental suit chamber, he hit the biohazard alarm. "You brought this on yourselves."

As one, they tried to rush the lab exit but the lab's security system slammed down the airlock door sealing them in. Yellow lights around the lab started to flash and a klaxon started. They banged on the door, begging to be let out, but already the temperature started to rise inside the lab. Suddenly large jets of flame engulfed the lab burning all inside it.

Rushing for the far side of the building, Gaeta heard the sounds of approaching marines. Putting on extra speed, he reached his office before they spotted him. He only had a small amount of time before they discovered him. Quickly shucking out of his clothes, he grabbed the gray duffle off his desk. He quickly pulled out the clothes and put them on.

Gaeta had finished snapping the helmet in place when the first marine burst in to the room. Picking up his case, he looked at the marine expectantly.

Snapping a salute at Gaeta, the marine scanned the office once more. "Ready to go, sir."

"Lead on." Carrying the case as if it were a heavy child, Gaeta ran after the marine. They rendezvoused with several more marines, including a captain, at the main junction. At the captain's questioning look, Gaeta nodded. "Taken care of, target acquired."

"Very good. Move out!" Removing the cap on the timer, the captain pressed the switch and tossed it behind him.

"And in a surprise revisit to old wounds, Rebels on Sagitteron decimated the academy of sciences in what is being labeled as a cleansing of the..." The reporter was silenced as Lee flipped off the screen.

Having been demoted back to lieutenant and suspended from active duty for six months due to his actions aboard the Argo, he had little to fill his days with. The revoking of his flight status during this time had cut down on his enthusiasm for the job and life in general. He had taken to just sitting around, pretty much ignoring the rest of the world. In fact, his only hobby was to see how tight his shorts were the next morning. Two months in to his exile, his pants no longer buttoned.

He considered it a good start.

When they could pry themselves away from one another, his brother and now girlfriend, Kara would visit him, on his quebit of course. It was disgusting to see how happy they were. Yet, despite himself, he couldn't begrudge them their happiness. As much as Kara could ever be happy, she liked to beat herself up over every little thing and it got on his nerves.

Lee was halfway through a good scratch of his balls when the doorbell on his apartment rang. Of course, it would have to be the front entrance through the locked display room. He was about to let it go when the knocking started and didn't stop. Groaning, Lee heaved his boxer bedecked bulk from the chair and walked to the door. Grabbing the key out of the lock box, he slipped in and unlocked the display room door.

When he was inside, he took a moment to admire the memorabilia, from the cylon cranial armor to the tapestry. The knocking started to get on his nerves and he scowled at the door. "I'm coming, keep your frakking pants on!"

"Lee, open the door!"

He recognized that voice. Moving through the displays, Lee reached the door and threw open the bolt. Opening the door, he looked expectantly at the other man. "What do you want?"

Gaeta didn't give him a second chance to say anything as he wrapped his arms around Lee. Pressing his lips to Lee's, he forced the other man to back up. Using his heel, Gaeta slammed the door shut behind them.

Facing the closet door, Gaeta slid his hand slowly up and down the arm that pinned him to the bed. The comfortable warmth of his lover flush against his back made him want to lay there forever. Through the window at their heads, he could hear the din of ships moving through the city. Occasionally, a ship would pass between the sun over head and them blocking it out. The sun was barely coming through the window so he knew it was mid afternoon.

He wanted to sleep, knew he should get some, but all he could focus on were the screams of those people in the lab. He had never killed so many people before. It should never have happened, it wouldn't have if they had only paid attention. Felix couldn't figure out why people were so driven to do what they knew was wrong.

As if sensing Felix's thoughts, Lee tightened his grip around the man, pushing his crotch against Gaeta's rear. "You are keeping me awake."

"Sorry." Bringing Lee's hand up to his lips, he kissed each finger. "Forgive me?"

"May be tomorrow." Yawning, Lee stretched a little before returning to Felix's body. "Today we sleep. Now quit thinking."

Felix made a sound of amusement, sighing with pleasure as Lee rubbed his stomach. Letting the drowsiness take him, he found it hard to keep his eyes open. "Can I stay with you forever?"

"Only if you shut up and go to sleep." Already half there, Lee drifted off and started to snore softly.

Pressing back in to Lee's body, bringing as much of the other man on top of him as possible, Gaeta finally gave in to sleep.

Buttoning up his recently altered uniform, Lee watched Gaeta sitting at his kitchen table. Having been called back to active duty due to uprisings on Sagitteron, he worried about Gaeta. Lee adorned his uniform by adding the leather insignia band while he glanced over at his brother. "You'll watch over him for me?"

"Yeah, sure." Having been watching Gaeta sit there for the past hour doing nothing, Zak was confused about the whole thing. He'd only seen this sorta behavior in his father and a few others. They all had one thing in common. "What happened to make him like that?"

"You know why I was called back to service, right?" It wasn't really a question, because he didn't care for an answer. Zak knew why and he was aware of that. Fixing his uniform, he tugged down on the jacket to straighten it out. "He was there."

"That's impossible, they said no one made it out alive." For some reason, Zak felt it necessary to keep his tone low. When he had nearly shouted, he winced. "How did he survive?"

"That's the question, isn't it." Cinching the leather belt about his waist, Lee raised his eyebrows. "I'd been searching for him the past three months and all that time he was working on a degree there. He won't talk about it, so don't try to engage him."

"Sounds like someone else I know. Gee, I wonder who that could be?" Punching his brother in the shoulder, Zak shoved him towards the door. "I'll keep an eye on your little lady, Lee, just don't expect me to be all touchy feely."

Side stepping his brother's attempts to get him out, Lee walked slowly in to the kitchen. Coming up behind Gaeta, he placed a hand on the man's shoulder. This was the last time he would see the man for a while, he knew. The last three days together had been exactly what he needed. He hadn't known it before, but he needed someone to depend upon him.

Lee brushed a hand through Gaeta's curls, feeling content when Gaeta leaned his head back against him. "I'll try to contact you the first chance I get."

Nodding against Lee's belly, Gaeta wrapped his arms around the other man. He was already starting to feel the numbness slip over him again that he had lived with for the past six months. Six months since his career had been cut short. Felix could hardly believe it. Looking up at Lee, he wanted to whisper that he cared for him. It wouldn't come.

Lee bent down to press a kiss to Gaeta's lips before stepping back. Sniffing, he turned and headed for the door. He sent a look to his brother expressing his feelings. "Keep this under your hat, I don't want anyone to know about this. If people find out, I will know."

Saluting his older brother sarcastically, Zak grinned.

Choosing to let it go, Lee returned the salute and walked out.

As he heard the door close, Gaeta went back to staring out the bay window over the city.

Zak stood there a minute watching Gaeta. He felt uncomfortable now that he knew who is brother was sleeping with. Rubbing his hands together, he came in to the kitchen. "So, you going to be fine?" When Gaeta didn't answer, Zak smirked. "Okay, well, I got to get back to the base. My instructor only let me have the morning off because of family. So, uh, I guess I'll be checking on you tonight, or something."

Silence was the only response he got.

Rushing for the door, Zak felt relief start to come over him. He was almost home free. He just had to get to the other side of the door and he would be!

"You suck."

"That would be Lee, I prefer women. Bye!" Rushing through the door, Zak slammed it shut and ran for the elevator.

Standing at attention, uniform perfectly fitted in all the right places, he was the epitome of the colonial military. There were flaws in his appearance, though. He wasn't the tall, muscle bound man they depicted. His skin wasn't technically the right pigmentation. He never smiled on que. And his hair was shaggy.

Despite all that, Felix Gaeta was a true Colonial Officer. He had served his fleet with honor and distinction. There wasn't a reason things shouldn't go his way.

Glancing up from the file, Admiral Etrinni closed it and leaned on the table. "Mr. Gaeta, what exactly does all this mean? You speak of half discovered truths and a conspiracy, but nothing concrete. Where are these people?"

"Dead, sir, as ordered." He couldn't believe it. The son of a bitch was reneging on his deal. Visibly ruffled, Gaeta stared at the admiral. "You yourself ordered me to make sure no one with the project survived!"

"Did I? I don't recall ever giving such an order." Etrinni sat back, a half amused smirk on his face. Everything was going according to plan. "What exactly did this supposed deal entail?"

"Yes, I would like to know the circumstances of these allegations." Beside the old man, Admiral Cain caught the Etrinni's stiffening posture. There was no love loss between them. Getting herself appointed to this board was yet another stab at his career. She wanted him out.

Straightening up, Gaeta again fixed his gaze above the heads of the admiralty. He might have a shot if Cain was on his side. "Admiral Etrinni gave me orders in writing that I was to officially resign my commission as a member of the colonial military. Unofficially, I would be an agent of fleet intelligence, a branch of the defense ministry. In exchange for carrying out his orders, in six months time, I would be given a promotion and assignment."

A slow smile spread across Cain's face. "Where exactly are these orders, Lieutenant?"

"Safely hidden, but I have a copy on my person, if you will permit me." At her nod, Gaeta unbuttoned the top of his uniform. Reaching inside above his heart, he pulled out the sheet of paper. It was a black and white copy, but the signature was plainly visible. Walking to the board's table, he handed it to Cain.

"You may return to attention." Cain examined the paper, delight clearly in her expression. After rereading it three times, she glanced over at Etrinni. "Well, it seems he was correct. These are official, even down the personal seal."

"Give me that!" Taking it from Cain, Etrinni examined it with dismay. "These have to be fake. I would never make such a mistake."

"Can we please get back to the matter at hand?" Admiral Metahart glared at the bickering admirals with derision. "What we are discussing is a matter of vital importance to the security of the Twelve Colonies. Now, Lieutenant Gaeta, in your time among these people, did you observe any physical proof of the research being done there as eluded to in the drive you retrieved?"

"Yes, ma'am, I did." At his words, several of the eight admirals on the board grew angry.

"Then in the end, our actions were justified. Dr. Shenkar's work must be eradicated where it is found!" As the center of the panel, Metahart was the senior admiral, thus the presiding officer. Her voice was clearly enunciated from her anger, ringing in the ears of all there. "When we opened Pandora's box fifty years ago, we got the cylons! If we allowed men and women who are too foolish to act without thinking of the ramifications free rein, who knows what other plague they would unleash upon humanity. No, it is better those few should die than we all suffer the consequence."

"What of me?" Since his mission was complete, Gaeta felt he was owed something. He had kept his part of the bargain.

Considering him for a minute, Metahart set her gavel down. "While we appreciate your efforts and the extraordinary circumstances of your position, there is frankly no way we can honor this deal. You did resign from the public view, to reinstate you without justification would result in too many questions."

"No." He tried to plead with her, but saw she wasn't empathizing with him.

She ignored his reaction, these were difficult times and sacrifices had to be made. "Your value to us in these matters is incalculable. Since you have been incognito for so long, I believe a short rest is necessary before your next assignment. Should you choose to resign, your signed non disclosure agreement would prevent you from ever revealing any of these proceedings upon penalty of treason and death. Do you understand?"

"Yes, sir." He had lost it after all. There wasn't even the promise of a position in the fleet waiting for him now.

"Very well. In six weeks time, you will report to Colonial Base Athens for a meeting with Admiral Cain under the guise of retrieving some belongings. She will be your new handler and all assignments will come personally from her." Raising her gavel, Metahart banged it down. "Dismissed!"

Putting his key in the door, Gaeta turned it and the handle to let himself in. As he entered, the strong whiff of roses and lilacs came to his nose. Only one person he knew of wore that scent. "What do you want?"

Glancing up from her glass, Caroline looked down the long hall to see Gaeta entering the apartment. Frowning, she set the glass down. "What are you doing here?"

"I live here, what's your excuse?" Closing the door, he set the key on the hook next to the door. Having been there a week, he had memorized where Lee kept things. He didn't bother to look at her, too afraid he would do something he would regret.

"I was concerned for my son. Obviously I had reason since it's apparent he has taken up with a bad crowd again." Rising from the table, she tried to walk in to the hallway to meet him, but Gaeta shut the hall door in her face.

Locking the hall door, Gaeta walked in to the bedroom he shared with Lee when he was home. Taking off his trench coat, he removed his uniform. The entire thing was thrown in the trash can next to the vanity while he heard the lock on the hall door shake.

Caroline was trying to pick the lock.

Opening the nightstand's drawer, Gaeta picked up the gun Lee kept in it. Carrying it and the clip separately to the door, he glared at the door. "Stop what you are doing and leave or I will shoot you through the door."

"You wouldn't! This is still my house..." She was silenced when he slammed the clip in the gun. Dropping the knife, she backed away from the door. "You wouldn't!"

"Bitch, I'm frakking crazy, didn't they tell you? How about I show you how good a marksman I am by opening this door without even touching the lock? Hmm, doesn't that sound like fun?" Gaeta was on the verge of blowing it by cackling. He had to place a hand over his mouth to stifle the laughter as he heard her heels clacking on the floor as she bolted.

With a sigh, he tossed the pellet gun on to the bed. There might be hell to pay over this when Lee got back. It all depended upon how much time the man had to deal with the situation before he did. Walking over to the nightstand, Gaeta picked up the handset and dialed out the number for Athens Base.

Lee didn't know how to take the message. Having been off ship when Gaeta's comm came through over the wireless, they had been forced to write it down. His initial reaction was to get angry at his mother and Gaeta both. Then, when he actually pictured it in his mind, he started to laugh. Folding the message up, he stuck it in his flight suit.

"What response would you like to send, sir?" Glancing up at Lee expectantly, she tried not to grow flushed. He made special things happen in her stomach.

"Send this to my mother on Caprica, route it through Athens base." Picturing it clearly in his mind, he clenched his fists on the communication's console. "Dear Mother. I have asked you to stay out of my apartment unless you called ahead first and I gave you the go ahead. He did not have a real gun, mother, it was my old pellet gun. You remember the one I keep in my night stand to deter Zak from stealing my condoms." At the snickers around him, Lee had to bite his lips to keep from smiling. "I would suggest that you stay away from him in the future as he might prove less hospitable. I also ask that you keep this between us as I am sure no one wishes to hear about our family business. With love, your son, Lee. P.S. Once again, you moved out ten years ago, I took over the lease. I don't know why I must remind you of this."

Smiling at him, the comm officer finished typing the message and hit the send. "Sent!" She simply adored him, even if he was being rude to his mother. She was certain she could train it out of him if he only let her.

"Good, now send this one to the original sender, care of the original carrier frequency." He waited for her to type in the signal requirements. When she looked up at him expectantly, he continued on. "Dear Daphne."

The CIC suddenly seemed way too quiet for a BattleStar.

Glaring at the people around him, Lee cleared his throat. "It has come to my attention that you are being an ass to my mother. While, I understand your need to flaunt your perfectly taut gluteus maximus, I must insist that you keep it covered around her. If she bothers you once more, think of our last night together. Remember how I pushed you over the kitchen table, tugging your pants down around your ankles. The tender caress of my palms across your thighs, slowly rubbing up them inch by aching inch. Feel my heated breath on your skin as I pant, drawing out each excruciating moment of it.

"Then, remember how I slammed my hand across your ass, asking who your commanding officer was. If you ever threaten my mother with a pellet gun again, you will never get to stand at attention and give me the one pecker salute." Grinning sweetly at the murderous look the comm officer was giving him, Lee enjoyed the moment. "Your Big, Hairy CO, Captain Apollo."

The comm officer debated deleting the message rather than sending it, but the decision was taken from her as Lee reached over and hit the key sequence. In shock, she began to sputter. "What? You sent that? They are going to think I sent that! Do you know what kind of perverts relay those messages? Or what they will think about me?"

"No, but I am sure your reputation will remain unscathed. Now, I have one final message to send." Leaning over the console, he made sure she understood that he didn't give a damn what she thought so long as she did her job. "This one is to a resident at Athens base."

Gaeta was in the shower when he heard the door bell. He finished washing his hair before stepping out. Whoever it was could either leave the package or wait for his convenience. After he had dried off, Gaeta padded to the rear entrance, ready to deal with whoever it was. Much to his relief, there was only a small black box at the door. It was marked with a red relief of winged Eros in flight.

Frowning, Gaeta picked up the box as if it might explode. Bringing it inside, he closed the door behind him. As he shook the box to see if it might go off, he frowned. There was something heavy inside, but he couldn't tell what it was. He set it on the kitchen table intending to leave it until later but the box started to vibrate.

Much to his horror, the vibrating box inched its way off the table. As it hit the floor, the vibrating mechanism rolled across the kitchen floor and a bill of sales fluttered to land at his feet. Picking it up, he felt his skin heat up. "Throbbin Robbin: Apollo Swallow Series."

"I'm going to kill him."

Slinking his way to his bunk, Lee felt like he was dragging the universe and his ass behind him. All he wanted to do was roll over and go to sleep. After sixteen hours of dealing with food riots and crowd control as head of a marine detachment, he was too exhausted to care if he smelled. Just as he reached his bunk, much to his annoyance, there was a black package sitting on it. Picking it up, he heard something moving inside it that sounded like puzzle pieces.

Setting it back down, he pried open the packing tape and lifted off the lid. Suddenly his day got a lot brighter. Scattered among the shattered vibrator parts were pictures of Gaeta obviously taken in the mirror. Doing an impromptu strip tease for the mirror, Gaeta ended up in Lee's briefs with the pellet gun stuffed down the front.

Making sure no one had seen, he pulled out the pictures and put the lid back on the box. The box went in to the trash and the pictures were locked in the bottom of his footlocker.

Zak Adama was working on putting back together a Viper. After crashing it for the second time, Kara had decided he would have more respect for the bird if he had to rebuild the damn thing. So far, he was just ready to throw in the towel. There was no point in trying to fix the damn thing, the entire rear support was cracked and she would never fly again. Still, she had insisted he put it back together.

He was halfway through the second compressor for the drive manifold, when he thought he saw someone he recognized heading towards the hangar. Setting down his tools, he wiped his hands off on his overalls. If Gaeta was here, then may be something was wrong. Usually, if the guy had a message to send, he would go through his own channels.

Moving towards the hangar, he was about to enter it when Boomer and Helo exited laughing about something. Distracted by the arrival of his friends, he grinned. "What's so funny, guys?"

Catching her breath, Boomer leaned on Helo for support. She shook her head and waved at Zak. "You don't wanna know."

"What she means is the less you know, the better for all." Cackling, Helo let go of Boomer and started away from the hangar. When she didn't immediately follow, Helo dragged her behind him.

Jumping in to action, Zak moved to block their path. "Hold up! Did a man named Felix Gaeta just enter the hangar?"

Sobering enough to focus upon the question, Boomer shook her head no. "He didn't say his name, just came in, said hello and Cain went off. She told us to get out with the implication she was going to rip him a new one. The look on his face, oh that look!" Clutching at Helo as he made an impression for Zak, she slapped his arm. "Cut that out, Cain might think you're on the menu!"

Giggling, Helo dragged the near hysterically laughing Boomer away.

Zak watched them until they disappeared across the tarmac in to the barracks. Turning, he walked back to the hangar. He couldn't see anything through the dust clogged windows and decided to chance cracking open the door. He opened the door, trying to see if he could hear anything but frowned when all that greeted him was the wind.

Pushing the door all the way in, he entered the hangar, looking about for any sign of Cain or Gaeta. Much to his surprise, he could see no one around the large Raptors. He stalked along the row of four Raptors, searching for someone but found even they were empty. Pausing, he counted the Raptors again. There should have been five of them.

"I told you I quit!" Staring at Admiral Cain, Gaeta fought to keep his voice steady. The woman's abject refusal to accept anyone telling her no was driving him to rage. "There is nothing you can say or do that will change my mind, Admiral."

Cain said nothing. There was nothing for her to say. In her quarters, she was the supreme being and nothing was above her command. The fact he didn't get that yet was something to be changed. "The details of your mission are as follows. You will infiltrate Doctor Baltar's social circle and set yourself up as a Doctor of Human Genetics..."

"Even if I did accept the mission, it would be impossible. I have already met Gaius Baltar." As she stopped talking, he grinned at her. "He already knows who I am." If he had hoped that would deter her, Gaeta was mistaken.

"Excellent, that will make this mission easier." She enjoyed the way his body shuddered under his control. If she had known how passionate he was eight months ago, she would have chosen him over the current incompetent ass she had for a tactical officer. There were very few things about her life she would have changed, he should be honored. Then again, she would never admit she made a mistake to him. "You will contact Baltar and insert yourself in to his life. I want a report on him in two weeks."

"What is the purpose of this mission?" From what he knew of Baltar, the man was a minor threat, but not in Felix's field. Baltar was a program designer, if he was allowed to continue his field of study, cylon like robots would result. Felix knew enough to work on a Battlestar, but not design one's computer core. There had to be others.

"He is being considered for a consultant's position with the Defense Ministry. We have reason to believe he may not be the best candidate." Handing him a folder, she grabbed a glass off her table. She drank from it, watching him study the folder, debating to open it or not. After two minutes, she hid her smile behind the glass as he looked inside.

Gaeta did a quick scan of the bio, nothing of remarkable interest in there beyond the list of awards and conquests. No name on the list stuck out to him. "This list is incomplete."

"We thought not. Dr. Baltar is a veritable Satyr." She grinned at his snort. Oh yes, he would have made a fine officer. "One of the duties is to flesh that out. His contacts, if he proves himself a traitor, will no doubt be worth investigating as well."

"Some, yes, but most, not hardly." There was no need to remind her about his last mission. "I already know most of his useful contacts. In fact, I have kept in regular contact with them." Despite the visible lack of change in her posture, he knew she was paying closer attention. "All right, I will take the mission."

"There was never any doubt, Mr. Gaeta." Setting down her glass, she refilled it and poured him one. Some times you just had to take a step back and let them lead themselves.

The fighting had been fierce, people fell on both sides, but at the end of the day, more rioters were on the ground than marines. Lee had tried to minimize the losses by ordering disabling, not killing shots, but had pulled the trigger that ended lives more than once himself. There was so much blood on the ground in places that not even the constant rains could wash it away. So much senseless bloodshed over something as trivial as work farms.

It was a simple matter, the work farms produced a third of the colonial food supplies. The colonial government controlled most of them, the Sagitterons wanted all of them. They laid claim that since it was their planet they should control the food harvests. At one time, he had agreed with them, but not after today.

Looking at the bodies of his men in comparison to those of the rioters he felt no sympathy for them. They had chosen to turn against the government for no better reason than for more money. Their leaders had lied to them, saying the colonial government was deliberately keeping them out of it so they could keep control of them. By keeping them out, they could keep the prices low, thus keeping them all poor. They who controlled the food, controlled the colonies.

Frak them!

Shouldering his riffle, Lee spit upon the body of a dead rioter. He didn't know who had killed her, it didn't matter. She had tried to kill them, she got what she deserved. They all did.

Waiting for the door to open, Gaeta adjusted his collar. It was a small thing, wearing a tie, but it felt like he was choking. There were more pleasant clothes to wear, but Cain had suggested his suit might go over better with her. Just as he was about to rip the damn thing off, the door opened with a very rumpled looking Gaius Baltar staring at him.

"Yes?" His tone was impatient, Baltar being distracted by something behind him.

"Hello, Dr. Baltar, I don't know if you remember me, but I am Felix Adama." Sticking out his hand, Gaeta didn't expect the man to shake it. He was pleasantly surprised when he was proven wrong.

"Of course I remember you." Baltar did a complete turn around in his demeanor. Focusing completely on Gaeta, he leaned against his door and smiled for the man. "It's hard to forget someone with such an interesting take on Human reproduction techniques."

"Do you mind if I come in? I have traveled a long way to see you." In anticipation of being told yes or no, he began to scan around Gaius to see what he could.

"Yes! Yes, do come in." Moving back, he turned so he could watch Gaeta enter the house. It wasn't until he noticed the movement of Gaeta's ass in his pants that he remembered there was already someone there. "Natasi! Dear! There is someone here to see us."

Gaeta took in the slight disarray of the house, clothing and files scattered every where. It was nothing he hadn't expected from a scientist making ready for a business proposal. He had come across more than one chaos in his time at school and academy. What he hadn't saw, but now was viewing, was a woman in a bath robe and red heels.

Inclining his head at her, he kept his eyes on her. There was something about her that set him immediately on edge. He couldn't explain what it was, but he wanted to keep her as far away as possible. Holding out his hand to her, he forced a grin on his face. "My name is Felix Adama, nice to meet you."

Stopping in front of Gaius' couch, Six grinned in complete fascination at Felix. Cocking her head to the side, she peered at him under a tuft of hair. "Natasi Ulani." Shaking his hand, she traced her thumb over the back of his hand. "Adama, that's quite a famous name. Are you any relation to the great war hero?"

"Not a bit." Taking back his hand, he slowly drew it to his side so he could quickly wipe it off without suspicion. For a moment, they stood two feet apart staring at each other, sizing the other up.

Feeling the tension, Gaius clapped his hands together. "Well, if you two will give me a moment, I will freshen up and then we can visit." At their simultaneous nods, he backed out of the living room and nearly ran to his bedroom.

Sitting back confidently on the couch, Six artfully arranged herself and the bathrobe. "Please, sit. Let's discuss why you are here."

"Who do you represent?" Already on edge, her words made him yearn to strike her. Something about the way she carried herself, the way she watched him was dangerous. If he didn't kill her first, she would kill him.

"Archimedes Retron, they are a subsidiary of the Hyak Group." She smiled again. Taking a deep breath, she tried to draw his attention to her breasts, but found he wouldn't look away from her face. "How long have you been sleeping with men, Mr. Adama?"

"Eight months." Glancing up at the doorway to Gaius' bedroom as it opened, he tried for a pleasant expression. "You will have to tell me how you do it, Doctor. I have never met someone quite as interesting as Ms. Ulani."

"She is a rare find, that is for certain." Coming around the couch, Gaius sat down and grabbed her hand. Bringing it to his lips, he kissed each finger. "You are most exquisite, my dear, so perfect."

"Yes, it's almost like she was manufactured." Gaeta felt a thrill shoot down his spine at the glare she sent his way.

"How long have you worked for the military, Mr. Adama?" Six had hoped her question would reveal something, but was disappointed when he chuckled.

"I am no longer employed by them." Glancing out the windows, Gaeta took in the lake waters, enjoying the beauty of the surrounding land. "You have a beautiful home, Dr. Baltar."

"Yes, well, it suits me." Finally taking in the atmosphere between his guests, Gaius decided to get on with the visit. "What brings you here, Mr. Adama?"

"A curtesy visit. I'm afraid I have some bad news." He had both their attentions and Gaeta began to monitor them for reactions. These next few moments would be critical. "As you may know, I spent a few weeks on Sagitteron before the fall of the Academy of Sciences. I got to know some of the staff and was preparing to earn a degree there when it came under attack. Until now, I wasn't sure as to their fates. Dr. Atrius' remains were found this morning when Colonial Marines liberated the campus. His entire staff and he were burned alive in their laboratory by the emergency biohazard protocols."

During his speech, Gaius had gone pale. He couldn't believe it. "Are you certain?"

"My contact found their university identification bracelets still attached to the bodies." Gaeta let quiet settle between them as Gaius digested the news. His reaction told Gaeta a lot about Baltar, but very little about Natasi.

Gaius looked close to panic. He knew there was nothing to implicate him in the Doctor's work, but still, even being associated was enough to damn him. "Do they know we were involved?"

"No. I was there under an assumed name." Well, an assumed name of an assumed name. Not like Gaius knew this, of course. Gaeta had no intention of telling him either. "In the last two weeks before the uprising, he gave me access to his work. I didn't get to see it all, but what he had done fascinated me. It's a shame I couldn't save more of it."

"Destroy it!" Leaning forward on the couch, Gaius looked at Gaeta imploringly. "You have to destroy whatever it is you took. They must not find out about it, my involvement, your existence, nothing!"

"Don't worry, Doctor, your secret is safe with me." And the Colonial Military Security Council. He hadn't known Gaius was involved with the project, but it was a nice bit to add.

"I don't care to take that chance. Destroy the damned research!" Gaius threw off Natasi's hand as she tried to stroke his back in comfort. This didn't require her involvement. She had already heard too much.

"Very well." Sighing as if disappointed, Gaeta looked down. "Before I do, I need to know who else might have known we were involved? I mean, aside from Atrius and Dr. Olera, who else worked on Dr. Shenkar's theories?"

"Um... Let me think here." Rubbing his forehead, Gaius shook it. There were too many names, he couldn't remember them all. Not all of them were involved and knew, but they all were a part of it. "Dr. Hemmo, he built the machines based upon... my designs. He's the last one who knows about me. Oh great, he's going to get me killed. That fat bastard is going to ruin me!"

"There's no need to panic, Dr. Hemmo is dead." Gaeta stood up. He placed a comforting hand on Gaius' shoulder. "Is there anyone else, anyone who might know what to do with Shenkar's work? Do you know what to do with it?"

"No, and no one else either. I never involved myself with it. Too complicated, too many variables. There's countless ways genetic tampering could go wrong. No, I stuck with designing the machines." Snickering, Gaius rubbed his hands over his face. "I designed the machines and now I'm going to hang for it."

"Thank you, Dr. Baltar, you've been very helpful. I'll show myself out." Giving Natasi one final look, Gaeta left the shaking man and walked out. His cover might have just been blown, but he didn't care. He had what he needed, what they did with it was up to them.

Sitting up beside Gaius, Six raised her hand under his chin to make him look at her. "Congratulations, Gaius."

"What?" Shivering, Gaius leaned in to her touch. His eyes were red with unshed tears. "What is going on?"

"You've just cleared the last hurdle to the consultantscy position." Squeezing his leg with her other hand, she smiled for him. "He was your final test."

"I don't understand. Are you saying he works for the Military? That would mean he lied to me." It was almost a foreign concept, someone lying to him. He did plenty of it, but other people like Gaeta seemed incapable of it.

"I don't think he did. You don't have to be employed by them to work for them." Letting him rest his forehead on her shoulder, she stroked his hair. "He's become very good at non answers and half truths." What she had heard intrigued her. She would have to look up this Dr. Shenkar and study his work. If it proved interesting enough, she would also look up Felix Adama.

Temporary lodgings aboard the BattleStar Pegasus were like a blessing to Lee. He didn't know what lottery he had won, but getting picked for the bed aboard an actual, honest to Zeus battlestar, was the most wonderful thing in the world. Most of the people his rank and lower were stuck on the surface for the foreseeable future. Seemingly stuck in rainy season, Sagitteron was a mudhole.

His gear flaking off mud like a snake shedding skin, he trudged through the decks to his new bunk. It was among the flight crew, so he knew exactly where he was heading. He ignored the looks they gave him as he passed. He knew he stunk like a peat bog, he'd been living near it for the past week. A few of the rebels had fled in to it and it was his job to flush them out.

All he could think about was getting a hot shower, putting on clean clothes, and laying back on the nice warm bunk and sleeping for a week. When he reached the pilots' bunk, he jerked the door open. Lee was surprised by the silence that greeted him. From experience, he knew they were some of the noisiest places on a ship.

Entering the cabin, he saw his bunk at the far end, bottom. What he saw on it took his breath away. Dropping his gear, Lee stared at Gaeta in surprise. "How?"

Raising the blankets, Gaeta patted the mattress beside him. "The Admiral owed me a favor. Let's not waste time asking questions we don't need the answers to. The others will be gone for another hour and then we'll have an audience."

Jerking open his uniform, Lee grinned. "Let'em watch."

Breathing in the scent of his lover, Gaeta felt peace descend upon him. Lee had fallen asleep on top of him and Gaeta hadn't felt the need to move him. As long as he took slow, even breaths, Lee's weight wasn't an issue. The problem was Lee's underwear were half on the pillow. Ordinarily this would be a good thing, but Lee hadn't washed in a week and any eroticism involved went out the window with the smell.

Using careful body movements so as not to disturb Lee, Gaeta freed his right hand. Slowly, he knocked the underwear on to the floor. The air free, he could take in the scent where he wanted it from, Lee's hair. Bending his neck forward so he could inhale, he placed a kiss gently upon Lee's head.

The man was his world now. He hadn't realized how much he had come to rely upon Lee being there. Their time together was brief, less than a week total. Yet, every day he wrote to Lee. Most of the time, Lee was in the field and couldn't receive his messages, but it mattered little. He could barely remember a time when Lee wasn't a consideration in his decisions.

Hearing the door open, Gaeta glanced over to see three of the pilots entering. He put a finger to his lips to keep them silent. Stroking Lee's back, he sighed when Lee shifted off of him. Automatically responding to Lee's movements, Gaeta slipped between him and the wall. Gaeta felt his own drowsiness take hold the moment Lee slipped in behind him, throwing an arm over his waist and leg between his.

Quiet snickering behind him was ignored. It didn't matter. He was back in Lee's arms and he was content.

Breathing heavily with regret, Lee watched the Raptor take off back to the Pegasus. His clothes were freshly laundered and his uniform pristine. That would soon be taken care of by the rain and mud. Walking to his unit, he glared at the smirking Lieutenants. "What?"

"I hear Daphne Adama made an appearance." Laughing at Lee's heated glare, Lieutenant Erikson returned Lee's one finger salute. "So, is it true, did he melt the Coldest Bitch in the Fleet's heart enough for her to grant him a favor?"

"Lieutenant, I will pretend you aren't talking about an Admiral like that and you will kindly pretend you know nothing of my sex life." The whooping and jeers from the gathered men and women earned them a stiff captain. Turning his back on them, he continued on to the command tent. The Admiral in charge of the operation would be there.

Glancing up when the tent flap was raised, Admiral Helion smirked at Lee. "It's nice of you to take the time out from your recreations to join us, Captain."

"Thank you, sir." Lee saluted him, feeling a little irritation at the man. It was one thing to be teased by his subordinates, they were young, it was expected. The admiral was a man his father's age, it was beyond embarrassing.

He felt weary. After months of going from one place to the next, never having time for rest, Gaeta was close to breaking. He needed to be free of it all, he needed time to himself. Waiting for the admiral to render her verdict was not helping his nerves any.

Scanning over the folder in front of her, Cain had to admit he was thorough. Everything she had asked for and more was in there, right down to a psychological profile based upon his reactions to stress and imminent death. "I wasn't aware your skills included psychology."

"I was trained to be an officer. Knowing the minds of those who I serve with is essential to the success of that job." Gaeta didn't understand why she above all others was unaware of this.

"Still, that isn't a required course for the standard tactical trainee." Unless they had changed things since she went through the academy. She hardly doubted it, but if this was the result, it was worth looking in to. Closing the folder, she put it on her desk. "Excellent. Report to the starboard hangar, a Raptor is waiting to take you back to Caprica. I will contact you again when we have your next mission."

"You will not be contacting me again." Walking to the hatch, he threw it open and stepped out. He slammed it shut behind him.

Teeth grinding, Cain spun her chair to reach the comm button. Slamming her fist in to it, she leaned in close so they could hear her clearly. "Do it!" There would be no helping them if they failed her this time. No one told her no.

The first thing Gaeta became aware of was that he was cold. His clothes were missing, he deduced by the breeze he could feel against his body. It was a constant breeze, yet gentle. His hair swayed in the wind, brushing his ears and forehead. Opening his eyes, he saw a moon over head so bright it lit up the night sky in a faded red.

In the light, he could see a beech for miles on either side of him. Ahead of him the ocean lay seemingly endless in its vastness. Beyond what he could see there was darkness. In no direction could he see any sign of civilization.

"It's beautiful, isn't it."

Spinning around, Gaeta came face to face with Natasi. She stood at arm's distance, as nude as he. He could detect no sexual interest in her body language and was silently grateful. Even here, wherever he was, she set his nerves on edge. The woman was unnatural, each movement hesitant as if she was remembering how a woman was supposed to move. He took a step back as she came towards him.

Instead of moving to intercept him, she stepped off to the side. "No human has ever landed upon these shores. God has kept it in trust for his chosen children." With each step, she left no trace in the sand.

Glancing down at his own feet, Gaeta noticed they weren't really touching the sand either. Strangely enough, despite the lack of contact, he could feel each particle of sand under him. Taking a test step, he tried to see if he could scatter sand. It didn't work, but he did move.

"At first, I couldn't understand what fascinated me so much about you. There were a million reasons to despise you on sight simply for your race, yet you intrigued me." Frowning, she held out her hand for him. When he made no effort to accept it, she took his hand in hers. "God has plans for all his children, but not all of them are for the better. We few are fortunate to bare witness to his greatness, Gaeta."

"How do you know my name?" He tried to take his hand back from her, but her grip was solid and unyielding. Panic blossomed in his chest. "What are you doing?"

Suddenly, she looked up at the sky. A serenity settled over her features at what she saw.

Curiosity winning out over fear, Gaeta followed her gaze. At first he couldn't make out what he was seeing, there were too many of them. Then, as the moonlight glinted off their sides, he knew.

Leaning in close to him, she whispered in his ear. "The count down has begun, Humanity's days are numbered."

The words were out of his mouth before he knew what he was saying. "By your command."

He was halfway drunk and well on his way to getting fully there. Three months was how long since Felix had disappeared without a trace, his duffle still in the closet with his clothes and papers. Two months since he had been given a week's leave and found out about him. One month since Zak had taken a nose dive through the atmosphere, blowing himself to hell in a Viper.

Unable to continue, Lee had simply refused to answer any of his communiques, letters, summons, even knocks at his door. Every time he saw someone he knew at the midnight liquor market down the block, he would simply walk out and find another store. He had been placed on administrative leave until he worked these problems out. Didn't seem like he wanted to ever do that, so his leave might as well be early retirement.

Upending his bottle, he tried to suck the life out of it, but was thwarted when he found the bottle was already empty. Tossing it away, he swayed in his seat. Even the liquor bottles were conspiring with fate against him. There had to be another bottle within arm's reach. He began feeling around for it. It took him a minute to realize he wasn't making the thumping sound, but that it was coming from his rear door.

Thinking he could pursued whoever it was to go get him another bottle, Lee stumbled to the door. He wanted to be drunk, but was too drunk to walk to the store. Throwing the extra latches he had placed on the door after his mother refused stay away, he slid aside to open the door. When he opened it, he saw no one in the hall. If his senses weren't so deadened by the alcohol, he would have screamed louder when a wet hand clutched his leg.

As it was, Lee fell over back wards trying to get away from the hand. Trying to focus his blurry vision, he thought he recognized who it was. Tentatively, he crawled over to Gaeta, taking in his appearance. Bleeding from his eyes and ears, Gaeta was a ghastly sight that made his stomach roll in fear. "What happened?"

On the floor, clutching the door jam for support, Gaeta reached out to Lee. The words he was saying were barely audible.

Frowning, Lee came in closer. "I can't understand you." He was grabbed by the front of his shirt, pulled in close so Gaeta could whisper in his ear.

"They're coming!"

THE END...