Title: Between Yesterday and Tomorrow

Author: SabaceanBabe

Rating: mature

Word count: 6,300

Spoilers: through the beginning of The Farm

Disclaimer: belongs to NBC Universal, no profit being made, please don't sue.

Author's note: this is my belated entry for the Helo ShAgathon ficathon, written for Florahart, betaed by mrushgdi and mitchy. The prompt: Helo and Kara; gen or not; preferably set during series; calcification, a furniture mishap, and variation; bonus points if you can complicate things with Lee. I tried to hit on as many points as possible, although I'm pretty sure the "calcification" and the "variation" aren't exactly what you had in mind. ;) And I just have to say that I frakking HATE coming up with titles.

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Karl didn't want to open his eyes. If he opened them, then he'd have to deal with everything again and he was just… tired. So frakking tired. And so he nestled back into Starbuck's ratty old chair in her ratty old apartment and tried to forget. The sun felt good on his head and arm and it wasn't long before he dropped off to sleep.

When he woke, the music had stopped. He still wasn't ready to open his eyes, though; it was the first time he'd allowed himself to relax in days. Not since he'd learned that Sharon wasn't really Sharon at all. Not since he'd realized he had been duped. Used. Thrown away like yesterday's garbage.

He shifted, his leg complaining at the movement as half-healed skin and muscle pulled uncomfortably. Ratty chair… ratty apartment… I fit right in.

A jangle of metal on metal and the sound of Starbuck's voice stopped him from falling fully into self-pity.

"Tired of walking?"

Reluctantly, Karl opened his eyes. Kara dangled a set of keys from the fingers of one hand, her grin a little wild. The blood and bruises on her face, the Arrow of Apollo resting on the cushion beside her, the stale smell of dust and oil and old paint, the faint hum of the speakers now that the haunting strains of the piano had faded added up to a feeling of unreality.

"Yeah." He answered her grin with a lopsided one of his own. "Yeah, I am."

She stood, grabbed the arrow, bent to stab out her cigar. She stepped around the table and nudged his leg. He couldn't suppress a wince when his foot dropped to the floor, but damned if he'd say anything to her about it. One brow raised, daring him to do just that, to say something, she nodded toward the dark doorway at the other end of the tiny kitchen and said, "There's a first aid kit and shit like that in the bathroom. Might as well grab some toilet paper, too, 'cause I sure as hell don't feel like using grass and leaves."

xxx

Racing along the Delphi-Cap City highway, late-summer wind whipping her hair around her face and her best friend singing along to the tune that issued from her truck's crap speakers, Kara was almost able to forget that they had survived the end of the worlds. Almost. The lack of traffic kept reminding her that this wasn't a leave rotation.

She glanced over at Helo. Not that she'd ever let him know just how much, but Gods she was happy he was still alive. Seeing him in that museum had been almost as big a shock as seeing that thing at his side. Poor bastard had been pining after his co-pilot for months and the frakking Cylons must have known it. He never had a chance.

The engine coughed once and Kara glanced at the instrument panel, even as the sound and feel flattened out as though nothing had happened. The fuel gauge read bingo fuel, but the damn thing had never worked anyway. Helo hadn't noticed the stutter, still singing, arm resting along the door and fingers tapping away to the beat. It always surprised her how good he sounded.

Another stutter, this one more pronounced. "Frak," she announced.

Helo looked at her. "We outta gas?"

She made a face at him as the engine coughed once and then again, before chugging noticeably as it died.

"That last sign we passed said there were a couple of fuel stations about three klicks ahead," he noted.

With a sigh, Kara put the engine into neutral. The speed they were going and the slight downward grade wouldn't get them all the way to the next exit, but it would be better than pulling over and walking from here. "Highway fuel stations always gouge their customers."

Helo laughed. "I have a feeling we'll get a decent price today." He shot her a look. "Not that I'm relishing the idea of pushing your truck the rest of the way…"

"You can if you want to, but I figured we'd just fill up the gas can in back." Another glance at the instruments confirmed what she felt – the slight grade had leveled out and the truck was slowing. The music seemed louder as the wind whipping past the open windows dropped off.

Nodding, he said, "We walk to the station, fill up the can, walk back, pour it into the tank, and then drive back to the station to top off."

Kara rolled her eyes at him. "I'm so glad I have you here to plan these things out." He stuck his tongue out at her in response, drawing her eyes to his mouth. It had been a long time since they'd frakked – since before he'd been assigned to Boomer for training… She brought her mind back to the present. Wow. Where'd that come from? she thought, but said aloud, "We don't both have to go."

Helo shook his head. "Yeah, we should. Splitting up is too dangerous; it's too open out here and until we find something better, this is still the main drag to that airbase."

Another glance at the instruments showed that the truck had slowed down below 80 kph. She could see the signs for the exit in the distance, but the exit itself was on the other side of a rise. A rise – not quite big enough to be called a hill – that was going to stop their progress altogether before too much longer. She looked over at Helo again. "Maybe," she said, "but the truck abandoned on the side of the highway is going to be a pretty big clue that we're out here, somewhere, even if one of us doesn't stay behind."

"Yeah," he nodded, "but we have a better chance of getting outta here alive if we're together, than we do if we just let 'em pick us off separately."

"For all we know, your girlfriend could've told them where we're most likely headed."

"She wouldn't do that."

"Your faith is touching, Helo, but she's a Cylon."

They were almost to the top of the rise and the truck was nearly at a standstill. Rather than getting into it with her about Sharon the Cylon, Helo looked out his window and then pointed. "Not too far up that way, Kara. If we push it to the top and let it roll—"

"We?"

"Okay, if I push it to the top and you steer when it rolls, then we've got some cover. Give us a better chance of still having a truck to put gas into."

Kara stepped on the brake before they could start rolling backward. "Start pushing, Raptor Boy," she smirked.

xxx

By the time they got back to the truck, it was full dark and spitting rain. The wind had picked up as well, and lightning streaked across the sky at irregular intervals. "If it keeps up like this, we're gonna get a full-blown storm before too much longer," Helo observed as he twisted the cap off the fuel tank.

"I don't know about you," Starbuck said as she pulled wet brush and leaves from the truck, "but I don't feel like driving in this crap."

Fuel sloshed into the tank and he looked up at another flash of lightning, this time accompanied by a long, low rumble of thunder. Up-ending the can, he said, "There were at least two motels and some kind of convention center up there."

"The motels'd be too exposed." Karl nodded, sealed up the tank, and Kara continued, "The convention center's more likely to have an underground garage."

He threw the can in back as she resumed the driver's seat. Sliding in beside her, the water trickling down his neck into his flight suit was a familiar sensation. "Convention center probably has better accommodations, too."

She started the engine and put the truck in gear. Bouncing across the grass and rocks toward the ramp, she shot him a grin. "Bet it has a bar…"

Before they reached the end of the ramp and turned toward the travelers' oasis, the skies opened up, the rain so heavy the wipers couldn't keep pace. Kara drove right past the fuel station, continuing on toward the convention center – a high rise of the type that usually included not just meeting facilities, but also hotel rooms ranging from economy to luxury.

"It's too wet," she said. "We'll fill up on the way out."

He shrugged. "You're the driver."

The darkened sign outside the convention center proclaimed a welcome to the Inter-Colony Physicians Association and a live band playing nightly in the Elephant Bar. Kara smacked him in the shoulder and pulled into the lot. "See? I told you there'd be a bar."

"Ha," he laughed. "It'd be just my luck they were waiting on a shipment when the bombs dropped. No booze."

"Cheer up, Karl. You're with me. I've got the Gods' own luck."

"Is that why you're stuck on a nuked ball of rock?"

She sneered at him and drove around to the backside of the building, following the signs toward the parking entrance. It was the type that you had to take a ticket to lift the bar, but there wasn't much point. Starbuck drove right through it.

The headlights revealed dozens of dust-covered vehicles, enough that it took them a minute or two to find an open spot.

"If you want to, Starbuck, we could trade up…"

"I like this truck." She pulled into the space, seemingly without slowing down until the sudden stop at the end. Luckily, Helo was used to that sort of thing from her, so he didn't bite off his tongue.

Shutting off the engine, Kara reached into the backseat and came back with a flashlight, which she handed to him. "Without the headlights, it's a frakkin' tomb in here." He switched it on as she swung out of the truck and headed to the back.

He shone the light in her direction. "Luggage?"

She ignored him, removing a few things from the storage area – a box, the music player that had been in her living room, the Arrow of Apollo, a small duffel. But then she grabbed something else and turned around to look at him in disgust. "You brought the noodles?"

"It's food."

"They're noodles."

"They're not beans."

"They're cheap noodles."

"You're the one who bought the damn things."

"Yeah, that's how I know they're cheap." Shaking her head, she tossed the package at him and grabbed up her stuff. Helo caught the noodles, slipped them inside his wet flight suit and picked up her music player. As she stalked past him toward a stairwell in the corner, above which was a sign that read Parking Level Two, Stairs To Lobby, she muttered, "Idiot."

He mouthed a kiss at her, "I love you, too, Starbuck," and followed, illuminating her path.

The door leading to the stairs didn't budge when Karl pulled on it. Water trickled down the bricks beside it in thin rivulets. He shone the light overhead, brought it to rest on a pipe above the door, leaking water. The couplings on the pipe were crusted over with calcium, indicating a large concentration of lime from somewhere.

"Rusted shut." He looked back down at Kara. "You got a prybar?"

"Yeah. Be right back." She let the duffel slip to the pavement and jogged back to the truck. Karl pointed the flashlight in that direction so she wouldn't run into anything and she returned a few seconds later with a large prybar. "Too bad it's not just locked."

"That would be easier," he acknowledged.

He traded her the bar for the flashlight, and while she kept the area lit for him, he smacked the bar into the doorframe a few times, knocking loose some of the rust. At about the level of the latch, there was a small gap, large enough to accommodate the business end of the prybar. Karl jammed the bar into the opening and worked it, making the gap noticeably larger as he moved it around.

Kara backed up a couple of steps and set the flashlight down, aimed upward so that it would give a wider illumination, and stepped in between him and the door. He shifted to give her space as she pushed down on the door handle and they both pulled for all they were worth. At first, the only give was the metal around the prybar, which sagged a bit from the pressure he exerted, but then they heard a creak that soon became a squeal of rusted metal protesting its forced movement. It shifted, gave way, and with a metallic screech, opened. Or at least, gave them a gap large enough to fit their hands into.

They looked at each other and Starbuck said, "This bitch is going down."

Helo grinned. He let go of the prybar and they both got as good a grip on the rusty metal as they could with bare hands. "Ready?" he asked.

"Pull!" she responded.

Bracing a foot against the door jamb, Helo pulled. The rough door scraped the palms of his hands, but he ignored the discomfort. Finally, it moved again, this time opening the rest of the way. The movement on the hinges was sluggish, but it was all they needed.

Grabbing up their gear, they entered the stairwell.

xxx

It didn't take long to determine that the building was deserted. During their recon, they located the hotel kitchen, laundry, the Elephant Bar with its elephant nose door handles (Kara was uncomfortably reminded of Sharon Valerii's elephant collection and she quickly shut off the memory), and, beginning one floor up, the guest accommodations.

In spite of the vehicles in the garage, they found no bodies.

The guest rooms had once had electronic locks. Designed for safety reasons to default to an unlocked status in case of complete loss of power, it was no trouble at all for them to find a room.

Kara pushed open the first numbered door they came to and flashed the light inside. A large bed in the center of the room, perfectly made if a bit dusty, a dresser, a desk, a chair, a door that presumably led to a bathroom – all the comforts of home away from home.

Helo slid past her and set the music player on the desk, then started rummaging through the drawers. "I don't see any reason to look further for a room, do you?" he asked.

Kara focused the flashlight on him, admiring the way the wet leather of his flight suit pulled tight across his ass. "I don't see anything I don't like." She moved the light toward the desktop. "What're you looking for?"

"I was hoping to find some candles. We should conserve those batteries."

"I have more." She rattled one of the boxes she carried. "They're not gonna keep candles in the rooms. Fire hazard. Management wouldn't want one of the guests' little darlings to torch the place."

He straightened. "Yeah, you're probably right."

A flash of lightning lit the room through the window. Kara set the arrow and the rest of what she carried on the low dresser and went to pull the curtains across. The rumble of thunder that followed sounded like it was still distant. "This crap is going to last all night, isn't it?"

"Yep. Welcome to my world."

She shot him a look as he leaned into the bathroom and flicked the switch once, twice. "Power's out, remember?"

He sighed. "Yeah, I know." He stepped fully into the room and Kara heard the rush of water. "Yes!" He popped his head back out, grinning like a fool. "Running water. They must have a tank on the roof."

"Bet there's no hot water."

"I don't care. I'm taking a shower."

Sitting at the foot of the bed, Kara laid the flashlight down, pointed toward the bathroom, and leaned over to unlace her boots. "You'll just have to put that dirty flight suit back on…"

"Not tonight. Swanky place like this?" Something flew through the air, catching her in the face. "Complimentary bath robes."

It was white. It was soft. It was fluffy. And it was clean. She heard the water of the shower start and, a couple of seconds later, a choked off whimper. Laughing, Kara pulled off her boots and grabbed up the light.

She set it on the back of the toilet, glancing through the shower door at Helo. "Cold?"

"Frakkin' A." He put an exaggerated shiver into his voice.

Reaching for a washcloth, Kara ran water into the sink and dabbed at the cuts on her face, wincing a bit at the sting of the cold water and rough terry cloth. Looking at her reflection in the mirror, she thought, That Cylon bitch sure put up a good fight… While Helo continued to splash in the shower, she took up the light again and shone it into the cabinet under the sink; these places always had a first aid kit stashed away somewhere and she didn't want to break into her own yet, if she didn't have to.

"There you are."

"What's that, Kara?"

"First aid kit," she called, looking over her shoulder toward the shower. The lighting was crap so all she could see was a vague silhouette, nothing to get excited about. She scowled and straightened, opened the kit and pulled out the antiseptic.

He shut the water off and then there was a slight squeak as he opened the shower door. Not long after that, he emerged with a towel wrapped low around his hips, rubbing another vigorously on his head. She closed up the kit and turned to face him, leaning back against the sink.

"You've lost weight," she observed. Not that he'd been overweight before.

Slinging the second towel around his neck, he cocked his head and said solemnly, "I didn't have any noodles to beef up on."

She threw her washcloth at him and then followed it toward him, stepping past him into the shower. "Go make yourself useful. See if that bar is stocked up, or something."

"Taking a shower?"

"Yeah." With that, she started shedding clothes until he turned away, a gentleman, as always.

xxx

Wrapped in a fluffy-warm bathrobe, carrying a flashlight he'd found in the room, his sidearm, and the wet tanks, underwear, and socks he'd rinsed out in the bathroom sink, Karl made his way back to the Elephant Bar. When he'd peeked in earlier, he'd noticed a fireplace close to the bar and he figured that if he could get it to light, it should give off enough heat to dry out his clothes.

Setting the wet things on a table, he walked around the fireplace, the stone floor that surrounded it much colder on his bare feet than the carpet under the tables and bar. It looked like one of those completely open-to-the-room deals with fake logs, used more for atmosphere than real heat, but even gas flames should work for what he wanted.

Sunk into the floor at the corner nearest the bar was a switch that required a key to turn on the gas. If it was still flowing. There was no scent to indicate a leak, so if he could find the key and either a match or a lighter…

The key was next to the dead cash register. Set up all along the bar were bowls of matchbooks sporting the name and stylized pachyderm logo of the Elephant Bar. A few minutes later, he had a cheery fire blazing in the fireplace and wet laundry hanging on chair backs to dry.

After confirming both that the bar was well-stocked and that the peanuts and pretzels were frakking stale, Karl grabbed up two glasses and a bottle of Tauron's finest cactus juice and set up a couple of barstools on the corner nearest the fire. Setting his gun on the bar, he poured himself a glass of agave and settled in to wait for Kara.

Watching the flames that danced along the fake logs, blue and orange and shades of gold, Helo downed a shot and thought about how the flickering display was beautiful, but still a pale copy of a real wood fire with its more tangible heat, with its light that could burn itself into your retinas if you stared at it too long. Smiling humorlessly, he poured another shot.

Had she ever been real at all? Had there ever been a Sharon Valerii? Or was it all a lie? Was she a lie?

The flames danced merrily within the stone pit and he downed the shot, finally closing his eyes against the fake fire and its false cheer. But he couldn't shut off the memories or the pain or the guilt.

He'd been played for a fool before. Hell, as far as women were concerned, he usually asked for it. This time was different. He really thought he'd loved her, had looked forward each morning to waking up and seeing her face and knowing that they really had something, even if it had taken the end of the worlds and the near certainty of death on a daily basis to bring that something to life.

Even now, knowing how she'd used him, he couldn't stop seeing her eyes when he'd called her a thing or, worse, those same eyes when she'd told him she was pregnant. Gods. He didn't know if it was a lie or the truth, but he couldn't risk it. If she really was pregnant, then that baby was the only family he had left. He couldn't let Kara kill her. Hell, he hadn't been able to kill her himself, even before she'd told him about the baby.

Didn't change the fact that she'd left him, though. Left him and Kara and taken with her their only way off this planet.

He poured another shot of agave and wondered if he should even bother with the glass.

"Stop thinking about the Cylon, Karl." Kara's voice startled him, but he stopped himself from jumping at the sound. Last thing he needed right now was her mocking him. "And don't bother denying it. I know that's what you're doing."

Dressed in the white robe he'd tossed at her back in their room, she slid in behind the bar and set down the music player, punched a button, and the same haunting piano strains that had swirled around her apartment swept through the bar. Karl closed his eyes again, wrapped his fingers around the empty shot glass, and tried to let the music work its magic. The firelight fluttered crazily against his closed lids.

"I have a glass for you, too, Kara," he offered above the clink and clatter as she rummaged around behind the bar.

"I was a bartender for a couple months before I enrolled at the Academy. Did I ever tell you that?" He vaguely recalled that bit of information. "What're you drinking?" she asked to the accompaniment of a bottle scraping along a shelf.

"Agave."

Kara snorted. "Frak that." The noise ceased and after a minute Helo realized that she was waiting for something from him and opened his eyes. Her hair looked very blonde in the firelight as she grinned and waved a hexagonal bottle at him. It was nearly full; the green liquid within sloshed and flashed refracted firelight at him. "Pierson's Emerald, Karl. The best ambrosia money used to be able to buy." She twisted off the cap and poured a glass. "And it comes free with the room." Lifting the bottle again, along with one eyebrow, she silently offered to pour him a glass.

"No, thanks. I'll stick with my low-brow crap." He reached for his agave but she beat him to it, poured him another shot with a flourish.

The melody ebbed and flowed like a tide as Kara padded around the bar and took ownership of the stool beside him. She smiled at him, the expression surprisingly innocent, given the bruises and scrapes. A reluctant smile spread across his face and finally she lifted her glass. "To old times." Her voice was soft, nothing of mockery or abrasion in it.

Karl lifted his shot glass and touched it to her tumbler. "To old times and old friends."

Eyes on each other, they drank. Images of people and places and times long dead flickered through his mind like the flames that danced in the fire pit. As yet another variation on a theme built a velvet wall of arpeggio and crescendo and diminuendo around them, Karl remembered Kara, good times and bad, card games and patrols and practical jokes on Colonel Tigh, briefings and leave rotations, hotel rooms and bars and everything else blurring together and distilling into this one brief instant as the agave burned a path down his throat.

When Kara leaned toward him, that wild light in her eyes, Karl didn't move to meet her, but neither did he pull back. Instead, he held his breath. Her eyes dropped to his mouth. Her hand dropped to his thigh, met terrycloth, and began to slide beneath. But before her mouth met his, she… slipped.

There was a sharp crack and then Kara was free-falling into Karl, knocking his barstool out from under him. He landed with a painful thud on the floor and saw stars as Kara laughed, a startled meep at first but then louder, the sound the best thing he'd heard in days. The back of his skull hurt like a sonofabitch, but Karl began to laugh, too, as Kara sprawled on top of him, having taken no damage at all from the tumble. Her dog tags bumped against his chin.

Green eyes glittered like ambrosia and she said, "Looks like that hurt."

Karl moved to shove her off him and sit up, winced, but then stopped breathing again when Kara nipped at his chin and slid a hand around to the back of his head, finding the already tender spot where he'd hit his head. Her smile faded, but the wicked glint in her eyes seemed even brighter.

Her lips were warm but her tongue was cool from the ambrosia and the breathless laughter. When he didn't respond, she pulled back a little. "She wasn't Sharon, Karl. She wasn't real." Kara kissed him again. "But I am. I'm real. I'm human." And again. "And I'm here."

He couldn't help but think of how ironic it was that he hadn't thought of Sharon for a good ten minutes, not until Kara brought her up again, making the assumption that Sharon was the reason for his hesitation. Hell, maybe she was the reason. But Cylon or not, she had dumped his ass the first chance she got.

Sharon didn't want him; Kara did, even if it was only for the moment. Karl tangled his fingers in her still-damp hair, pulled her back down, opened his mouth under hers. Because Kara was right. Kara Thrace was real and she was here and he needed to feel alive again, human again.

With a low growl he rolled, covered her body with his, a little surprised to find that, like him, she wore nothing beneath the robe. Shorter than Sharon, softer, Kara was… Stop that, he told himself and then he made a conscious decision to stop thinking at all.

Elbows on the floor to either side of Kara's head, Karl looked down at her, felt her heart pounding against his chest. His dog tags dropped on their chain to rest in the hollow of her throat. She reached up both hands, grasped the sides of his head, and rose up again to kiss him greedily. He shifted, slid a forearm under her head, kissed her back.

"Gods, I missed you," she whispered against his lips. She pressed her body into his, only a thin barrier of soft cloth between them. "I thought you were dead."

He nuzzled the warm metal of his tags out of the way, licked at her warm, slightly salty skin. "I thought I was, too," he murmured, sliding a hand between them, pulling and tugging at cloth until there was no longer anything but skin against skin. "Thought I'd never…" He licked and nipped his way from the hollow at her throat up to her jaw. "… never leave this rock."

Kara slid one hand over his shoulders and pushed at his robe, sliding her hand beneath the fabric to caress his back, stroking her hand over his flank and over his hip and then down, reaching between them, brushing against his hand and grasping his erection even as he slid one finger into her. Her fingers closed tightly around him and Karl gasped into her mouth, licked at her tongue, pushed another finger into her slick heat, stroking.

She licked and sucked at his tongue, bent one leg around his hips and began to guide him into her, but he stopped her, Sharon's words suddenly echoing in his mind.

"I'm pregnant…"

"Wait," he said, resting his forehead against Kara's.

"What's wrong?" She sounded more irritated than concerned and Karl had to smile.

He kissed her forehead. "Nothing's wrong. It's just…" He kissed her eyes. "I don't think I want to get anyone else pregnant right now."

Kara's eyes widened in surprise, but then she threw her head back and laughed, arching her body into his. Even though he had been the one to slow things down, he couldn't help but thrust into the movement. Her fingers were still wrapped around his cock.

She squeezed him again, sucked at his neck, just below his jaw. "No babies for me, Karl." She tugged at his lower lip with her teeth, slanted her mouth on his for a deeper kiss, broke off again to whisper, a little breathlessly, "Unlike you, I'm up to date on all my shots." With that, she rolled them over again, so that she was on top.

Kara ground her hips against him even as she pushed herself up onto her hands and looked down at him. Her face was completely serious, the laughter fading away and lust taking its place. She leaned over him until she was close enough for him to lift his head and lick at her nipples, suck them into his mouth, tease them with his teeth and tongue until she made a soft hum of pleasure.

Pulling back again, she kissed him hungrily, one hand gliding over his ribs, hip, thigh and then she moved lower, tracing a path with lips and tongue down his throat, his chest, his abdomen, and finally, the blood roaring in his ears, she took him into her mouth, deliberately scraping her teeth along his member until he gasped and arched into her.

"Gods…" His voice was a plea.

And she answered that plea, sucking once, hard, at his cock and then releasing him only to straddle his hips, stroking his balls with one hand while she held him steady with the other, lowered herself onto him, muscles clenching around him. His pulse pounded as he thrust up into her again and again.

Karl's fingers tightened on her hips as she rode him. His whole body grew taut, pleasure coiling up inside him, tighter and tighter, until it became so intense it was nearly pain. He was no longer capable of thought, there was nothing left but sensation, the feel of her on him, sweat-slick skin sliding in a rhythm that gained momentum with each stroke as his consciousness narrowed until all he knew was release as the tension exploded within him, within her.

"Gods, Sharon!" The cry tore from him and he knew it was wrong, but it was too late to call it back.

But then Kara collapsed against him with her own release, shouting a name that wasn't his. "Lee! Lee…"

She went very still and Karl wondered if she even realized that they'd both called out for someone else. Then she started to pull away from him, but he tightened his arms around her, wouldn't let her go.

He held her, stroked her hair. "Shh… It's okay, Kara." Slowly, she relaxed and when she moved again, it wasn't to pull away from him but rather to lay her head on his shoulder and a palm on his chest.

The floor was hard beneath him, but Kara was a comforting weight and Karl didn't want to move, wanted to stay there for a while and pretend that everything truly was okay. She traced aimless patterns on his chest and he closed his eyes and let himself drift off.

xxx

"Kara, wake up." Helo shook her arm, whispered into her ear. "We should get going."

She shifted and rolled onto her back, her head still pillowed on his arm. She hadn't looked him in the eye since she'd called him Lee, had wondered if she'd be able to as they'd gone back up to the room, not speaking, and slid into bed while the storm raged on outside. Gods, first it's Baltar and now Karl. Why don't I just tattoo Lee's name on my forehead? she thought sourly.

"C'mon, Starbuck. We left a lot of stuff down in the bar and I don't know about you, but I'd really like to go home."

Home. Funny, she'd never really thought of Galactica as home, but when Karl said it, she realized that it was true, at least to a point. Her apartment on Delphi had never been home. None of the crappy little places she'd lived with her mother had been home. But the old battlestar…

What she'd told Helo about not missing any of her stuff was true, but now that she was here on Caprica, she missed Galactica. She missed flying. She missed bitching at Tyrol about some mechanical problem with her bird and she missed fleecing the other pilots of their stuff. She missed the Old Man. And she missed his son, but she really didn't want to think about Lee right now, or how she'd left him. I bet he was pissed.

She rolled toward Karl and snuggled into him. She'd missed him, too, missed having his goofy face around and his running commentaries during the daily briefings. "I don't wanna get up yet," she mumbled into his skin. Stretching, she nuzzled his neck, felt it when he laughed.

"All right, fine. Keep your lazy ass in bed. I'll go get our stuff." He slipped out from under the covers and easily pulled away from her hand on his wrist when she tried to pull him back down. She watched him as he walked over to the window and pulled the curtains open, letting in the morning sun, then retrieved one of the white robes. Kara grinned as she thought that there were worse sights to wake up to than Karl Agathon, naked.

"What?" He pulled the robe on and tied the belt around his waist, cutting off the view.

"I didn't say anything." But she met his eyes now and found that it wasn't so hard, after all. Sure, she'd called him Lee and he'd called her Sharon. It didn't matter, not between them. They'd never judged each other, at least not for long – that was one of the reasons they were still friends.

"You should get dressed." He picked up his sidearm from the dresser and headed for the door.

Kara threw a pillow at him.

Mischief in his eye, he pointed at his gun.. "Don't make me shoot you."

"Don't forget the ambrosia," she told him and then flopped back on the other pillow and pulled the covers over her head. "And try not to shoot yourself!"

He laughed on his way out.

xxx

Kara's eyes snapped open as her warm cocoon of blankets was rudely ripped away.

"Get up, Kara." And then a bundle of cloth hurtled toward her face. She reached up a hand and caught it before it struck.

"Frak you, Agathon."

"You did that already."

"What are you, my mother?" He was way too cheerful and she wanted to smack him because dammit, now she was cold. She untangled her bra from the pile and pulled it over her head, thrusting her arms through the openings.

He whistled as he staged things by the door, waiting for her to finish dressing.

"I hate morning people, Helo," she said as she stomped her left foot into her boot. "They ought to be—"

He held up a hand, cutting her off. There was no longer anything cheerful or chipper about him as he ran to the window. "Frak."

"What is it?" She hadn't heard anything. One boot on, she joined him at the window, looking out over the parking lot to the road beyond.

"Cylons," he said, although it was no longer necessary. Dozens of chrome toasters marched along the road; a vehicle similar to her own passed them and sped along toward the highway entrance. "Probably headed for the Delphi airstrip."

Kara turned away, went back to the bed for her other boot. "Soon as they're gone, we head out. I've got a map in the glove box. It's new enough it should show us a back route that'll get us close to that airstrip."

Helo, still at the window, nodded. "Yeah, we have to stay off that main drag." Leaving the window, he took up his belt and buckled it on, fastening the holster strap around his thigh. "The toasters have obviously cleared it for their own use."

Kara pulled on her leather jacket and felt in the pocket for the keys. "Let's go," she said as she grabbed up the arrow and headed for the door. They'd gas up the truck and they'd find a way onto that base and somehow they'd find a way home.

fin