Disclaimer: not mine.

Pairing: Sharon and Karl Agathon. vague references to Kara Thrace/Sam Anders Spoilers: most of season three, no speculation for season four. Set before Crossroads.
Rating: um... PG for some language, I think.
Notes: written at work, cleaned up, expanded and mocked for excessiveness cuteness.

This is not a Quadratic Equation by ALC Punk!

The flight deck was bustling, Chief's crew and the pilots coming off CAP intermingling in a chorus of shouts, cat-calls and camaraderie. It was the sort of thing Helo remembered the place having before the war. And after the crap the Cylons had put them all through, it was nice to see again. There was one voice he knew he'd never hear out there again, but he was learning to deal with that. Checklist finished, he signed off on it and handed it to Cally. "We all set?"

She glanced over it, then nodded, "Go take a break, sir," she suggested with a smile.

"Thanks." He clapped her on the shoulder and climbed out of the raptor, letting his mind shift to more immediate things than a break, or another CAP. Hera had been sick that morning, so he and Sharon hadn't sent her to day care. Instead, they'd asked Sam Anders to watch her, since he wasn't doing much of anything, anyway.

Helo wasn't sure exactly what he'd get home to find, though Sam had watched her before. If either he or Sharon could have gotten out of their patrols, they would have. But 'Track was running the new recruits through basics, and they needed every raptor pilot and ECO on the line. They'd tried split-shifts, with Sharon working days and he working nights, and it just hadn't worked well. They hated never seeing each other. Karl, especially, hated not getting to fall asleep next to her.

Besides, there'd been something wrong about sleeping during the days. Not to mention the fact that too many things happened during the day which sometimes required his attention.

'Track had actually objected when Sam had said he'd stay with Hera, claiming that he would fall behind. When Seelix had pointed out that she'd kept up, 'Track had growled, but let it go. Sam had promised to do extra work to make certain he didn't fall behind.

Knowing he owed Sam, Helo hurried down the corridor to their room.

When he opened the hatch, the cabin was perfectly quiet, with only Hera's stuffed toy sitting on the floor near her crib. Hera and Sam were both on the couch, their heads bent over the book Sam was reading aloud to her. Before he stopped, Helo recognized the viper flight manual Kara had written.

"How's my favorite girl?" He asked, letting the hatch close and moving towards them. "Hey, Sam. Thanks for watching her."

Sam grinned at him and closed the book. "No problem." He nudged Hera, who was halfway between a smile and a frown at the coincidence of her father arriving and Sam stopping his story. "I had homework to do, to keep up with the rest of my class. And Hera helped me, right?"

The little girl nodded her head, smiling at him.

"I still owe you, man," Helo retorted.

Sam waved a hand and then looked at Hera, his voice coaxing, "Why don't you show your daddy what you learned today?"

Unable to help himself, Helo beamed at her, scooping her up into his arms, "What'd you learn today?"

Hera looked very serious for a moment, then she grinned a smile that was pure Sharon and poked his cheek. "Da."

Eyes going wide, Helo looked from her to Sam. "Did she just--" He broke off, words failing him. Hera didn't talk. It was the one thing that Cottle had mentioned when he'd checked her over. Most children her age were already speaking more than a few words. Hera was just silent, or shrieking, depending on her mood.

"She did, yes," Sam confirmed. His grin got deeper, reaching his eyes. Obviously, he was very proud of Hera and himself.

"Wow." Helo smiled at her, ignoring Sam for the moment. "Yeah, Hera, that's me. Da."

"Da," she repeated softly, poking his cheek before leaning her forehead against his shoulder with a little sigh.

A laugh escaped Helo, and he felt far more cheerful than he had all day, "So she was ok?"

"Yeah. No more occurrences of the being sick part," Sam confirmed.

The hatch opened and Sharon strode in, catching Sam's words. She smiled, some of the worry disappearing from her face. "That's good." She moved to Helo and Hera, unzipping her suit. "Hey, you two." She kissed Hera's cheek.

"Ma," Hera said, patting her cheek.

Sharon gasped in surprise and then broke into a huge smile, "Hi, Hera." She rubbed her hand against Hera's back and leaned in to wrap her arm around Helo.

Snagging his fingers in her belt, Karl pulled her in and took a breath. His eyes drifted closed, and he wondered a little in amusement that his best memories of home were associated with the smell of sweat, leather and engine grease. And rain, he reminded himself. Not to mention mud.

The soft clang as the hatch closed made him open his eyes, and he realized Sam had left without saying good night. He frowned. He'd wanted to offer the man dinner. Give him something else to do besides drink and frak random women.

Sharon pulled away, taking Hera with her. "Did you teach her?"

"No, I think Anders did."

She kissed Hera's forehead and closed her eyes for a moment, then replied, sounding almost sleepy, "Remind me to thank him tomorrow."

"I will." Karl snagged her belt again and pulled her back into his arms.

"Grabby."

"Hey, I've been good." He protested.

A chuckle escaped her, "That's not what I've heard."

"You heard wrong."

They kissed, and then Hera poked Helo's cheek again. "Da." She announced, as though it were an important thing to say. Then she patted Sharon, "Ma."

Helo narrowed his eyes, "You get the feeling Sam taught her to poke me, too?"

A giggle escaped Sharon, "Now why would he do that, Hera?"

Hera giggled back and then leaned into her mother with a soft sigh. "Ma."

"Your day go good?" Helo asked her as he moved to start getting dinner ready.

"Yeah." Sharon wandered to the couch and sank down on it, propping her feet on the table and cuddling Hera, "It did, actually. Although I can't wait for Racetrack to get those rooks into shape. We need some god-damned relief out there."

"That's what I told Apollo, the last time we discussed resources." But work wasn't really what he wanted to hear about, once he was home. At least not now, when their baby was speaking. A grin broke over his lips again, "Heard the gossip about Hot Dog?"

"God," Sharon rolled her eyes at him, "I heard nothing BUT the gossip, the entire patrol."

Chuckling, Helo let her talk about it, effectively keeping both of them from discussing anything serious. Not that he minded, he'd had an entire day of serious. And besides, he'd have another in the morning.

-f-