Disclaimer: not mine.
Characters: Sam Anders, Gaeta, Dee, Kara Thrace
Pairing: vague Kara/Anders, Dee/Efficiency
Set: insert for the latin-titled episode of suck.
Rating: PG, language
Spoilers: er... through that episode? Otherwise, none, as far as I can tell.
genre: gen, angst, episode insert
length: 1400 words
Notes: er, this was supposed to be a drabble... title swiped from 'Fumbling Towards Ecstacy' by Sarah McLachlan

Companions for our Demons
by ALC Punk!

The flight deck isn't as full as it should be. Laird is in charge, Figursky and half the deck crew lost with the baseship that disappeared days (weeks?) before. Not that anyone minds. Laird is pretty damn competent. And Sam knows he wouldn't even be thinking about it if he weren't so. damned. tired. He trips getting out of his viper and only Laird's lunge and grab saves him.

"Grab the ladder, you idiot, or I'll drop you," the man says, his voice strained.

It occurs to Sam that Laird is tiny compared to him, and he follows his suggestion, hands latching onto the metal of the ladder, clinging until between them he's back up-right and standing. "Thanks," he mumbles, using both sides of the steps to make his way to the deck. If he can just get to the deck, he won't be in danger of falling again. And falling would be bad. He knows this because Hot Dog fell two days ago, and Kara had to readjust the CAP schedule and now everyone's flying triple-shifts instead of just double.

He remembers when he thought flying a viper would be easy.

Maybe, when he's awake enough, he'll go back in time and shoot himself in the head for the thought.

If he can go back in time. And if he ever actually gets enough sleep to consider it. After the weeks of flying routine recons and patrols on Demetrius, he thought he'd seen the worst. Now he knows he was wrong. At this point, Sam might actually have as many hours in the air as the pilots who've been flying since before the war. He's a little too scared by the thought to actually check.

"You're cleared. Get some sleep, sir," Laird says, slapping him on the back.

"Uh-huh," mumbles Sam. He thinks he's supposed to be somewhere--maybe another of those stupid frakking meetings that Tigh can't stop frakking calling. But his feet don't take him there

This is a route he's used to, now. He thinks there should be a path worn in the decking between the flight deck and the infirmary. Between the pilots and medical personnel, and him, everyone goes there and back again. He laughs a little, trying to decide if he counts as a pilot, even now.

Cottle's people are so used to him, they don't even notice him standing there anymore. It's easy to find the right curtain, easy to move so he's still in the shadows--not quite able to see Gaeta, but knowing he's there.

Sometimes, Felix is singing, the mournful quality of his voice digging under Sam's skin.

My fault, my fault, my fault... He's been over it a thousand times, by now. All the different things he could have done, and he knows--he knows--that there was nothing else he could have done. Not in that instant. If they'd jumped away, that last chance to find Earth--(that last chance to consider a peace with the Cylons, a peace he desperately needs, even as the guilt now makes him wonder if it was a futile hope)--would have slipped away. Gone forever, because no one could think clearly after fifty-plus days unable to breathe properly.

Doc once said that if they'd gotten him back immediately, there was a possibility they could have saved the leg. Sam's never told Kara that. She doesn't need more guilt than she already has--and she needed to find the reality of her dream before it drove her insane (more insane).

The quality of Felix's voice changes, then he stops completely.

The pause catches Sam by surprise and he's so tired that he moves, his flight suit squeaking in the sudden quiet of the infirmary.

"I know you're there." Gaeta's voice is almost blank. As though any emotion he has bleeds out every time he sings.

Sam thinks, for one wild moment, that this is not how he wanted this confrontation to go--that he's not awake enough, that there's nothing he can do to take back a bullet fired in haste.

"Get out."

He's right.

Sam opens his mouth, closes it. There's not a frakking thing he can say. Nothing that will make this right. "I'm sorry."

"Get. Out." The words are bitten off with a precision that borders on hysteria, and Sam reacts to the underlying emotion by backing up.

He knocks a tray over, the instruments spilling across the floor in a loud clatter that breaks the peace far worse than Gaeta's demand. "I'm sorry," he repeats, turning and stumbling as he picks up the implements. Scalpels, needles, things he has no names for fill his hands as a nurse approaches, her eyes calm.

"It's all right, sir. Just leave them be. We'll clean up."

Sam hands over his handfuls and glances back at the curtain, feeling guilty. "I didn't mean--"

A crack of laughter breaks over them both and Sam flinches. The nurse shakes her head, "Go, sir. There's nothing you can do here."

"I'm sorry," Sam says again, like it'll help and it doesn't sound like a pathetic sop for his ego and guilt. The nurse doesn't reply, already turning away from him, efficiently picking up the things he'd knocked over.

He makes it out into the corridor before he starts to shake. He figures it's adrenaline, a reaction to the stress and to the lack of sleep. It's all made worse because he knows that in four hours, he'll need to be up and back in the cockpit, flying around the fleet. Keeping the civilians safe from himself.

"Sam?"

Dee's voice pulls him from his thoughts and he realizes he's nearly walked over her. "Gods--" he stops, "Dee."

"C'mon." She grabs his arm, tugging him after her.

It takes Sam longer than he'd like for him to realize she's leading him back to his rack. He has the feeling he must have been lost. And then thinks that, maybe, he's a little tired about the time that Dee keeps him from falling over his own feet when he tries to step over a hatch.

"Sorry," he mumbles.

"Not the first time I've hauled a pilot back to his rack."

The reply is efficient and amused, and Sam takes far too long to decipher it. She's got him sitting on his bunk, her hands working the zippers and snaps of his flight suit before he catches them. "Stop. I'm good." A little more awake, he eyes her. "Thanks."

"Get some rest, Anders," she suggests, pulling her hands free easily and shoving at his chest a second later.

The push knocks him over, he's just that tired. Sam can't even fight when his head hits the pillow and Dee's hands take his boots off. He thinks of warning her about the length of time his feet have been in there, but he's asleep between one breath and the next.


Dee would have appreciated the warning, but the stench isn't unexpected. Sam's the fourth pilot she's had to corral back to quarters since this frakking search for Roslin started. Tucking his boots in his locker, she stretches and then closes the door, leaning her forehead against the cool metal for a moment. It's not just the pilots who are tired, though they're the worst, the old man's riding everyone hard in his mania. She's barely spent six hours in her own rack, CIC seems to have taken up permanent residence in her dreams.

There was a time when she would have confronted him. But now she's not so sure she knows him anymore. She straightens and her glance slides across the door, where Starbuck is leaning, watching Anders, something lost in her eyes. Dee's not sure she knows anyone, anymore.

"Get some sleep, Captain."

One corner of Starbuck's mouth lifts, and Dee wonders again who the woman who came back from the dead really is, "I've got CAP in twenty. Maybe later."

Dee nods, refusing to let her own exhaustion show. "I'll get back to CIC, then."

"Good luck," Starbuck offers.

Halfway down the corridor, Dee thinks of a question, but doesn't stop. Starbuck doesn't know the whereabouts to Earth anymore than Dee does. And maybe that's ok. Maybe, in the end, they were never meant to find Earth.

-f-