Title: Scut Work
Word count: 661
Spoilers: for The Woman, King
Author's note: written for rebelliousrose, aka MaliB, for the occasion of her birthday. Not betaed, so I hope it isn't too off…
Karl leaned back in his chair and then leaned back even further, stretching out cramped back muscles. He propped a foot against the desk and stayed on his current trajectory until his shoulders came to rest against the bookcase behind him. Precariously balanced on just two of the chair's five wheels, he allowed the foot not being used to maintain his position to dangle free.
Sitting still for hours, hunched over the instrument panel of a raptor, wasn't measurably different than this, but, though he knew it was fundamentally the same, it was still somehow not. Sitting at a desk staring at reports and forms and complaints always left him tired and sore in ways he never experienced in a raptor. His time in charge of the refugees in Galactica's hangar deck three had cured him of any thought of going into politics before it was even born. "Mayor of Dogsville, my ass," he said aloud.
His chair came back down to the deck with a thump and a rattle of wheels. Luckily, it fell toward the desk, landing upright, rather than falling further backward and knocking into the bookcase. He rolled his eyes mentally. Because that would have been embarrassing.
Lieutenant Gaeta stifled a smile behind one hand. "I'm sorry, Captain. I didn't mean to startle you." He held out a sheaf of papers. "Here are the reports you requested."
"I thought those wouldn't be available for at least twenty-four hours." That's what Colonel Tigh had told him, anyway.
"I... uh, found some time to work on them."
"Why?" Colonel Tigh had been the one to relay the request for the statistical reports on the newest group of refugees in a half-hearted attempt to help Karl in what had turned into a task of monumental proportions. Taking care of the refugees was scut work, a punishment detail for an incident Admiral Adama had no desire to admit had happened. And the damn thing – dubbed Dogsville by Starbuck – just wouldn't stop growing.
Gaeta lay the reports on a stack of yet more paper, but said nothing. "Felix?" Karl prodded. He really did want to know why.
Felix shrugged. "I know what it's like to be on Tigh's bad side." Karl grinned ruefully and Felix gave him an answering smile. "When I thought it was Tigh who wanted the reports..." He didn't finish, but then he didn't have to. Karl knew some of what had happened on New Caprica, knew that the Colonel blamed much of it on Felix Gaeta as President Baltar's aide. That hadn't changed even when Tigh had learned just how much he and everyone else who had survived New Cap owed Felix.
With a short bark of laughter, Karl said, "Yeah, I guess you do have some experience with our XO."
Felix shrugged again, then nodded at the reams of paper covering every centimeter of Karl's desk, the stacks on the deck behind it. "Can I help you go through any of these?"
Karl scrubbed his hands over his face. It was late. He missed Sharon, missed Hera. All he wanted was to go home. Reluctantly, he shook his head. "I have to find accommodations for twenty-two more families by mid-morning, and then I get to work on accommodations for another influx refugees from Sagitarron in the morning. There's not really much you can do."
Felix snagged the only other piece of furniture in the room, dragging the high-backed chair that had once graced someone's dining room closer to the overworked desk and the raptor pilot who was in danger of being buried alive under metric tons of paper. "Sure there is, Helo." He opened one of the report folders. "If there's one thing I can do and do well, it's work a report."
Karl laughed. It had been ages, it seemed, since anyone had called him Helo. And for the first time in ages, he began to see a light at the end of the tunnel.