"You in or out?"
Helo shook his head, looking across the table at Kara. "I've got nothing left."
She smiled. "You've got pants."
Helo held her gaze for a minute, and then stood. He unfastened his buckle, deliberately keeping his eyes away from Sharon's as he stepped out of his pants. Folding them neatly, he laid them on the table.
"Satisfied?" he asked Kara.
"Very. Three on a run," she said, laying her cards on the table. Helo groaned as she took his pants.
"They're a bit big for me," she said, leaning forward to deal another hand.
He looked at her. "I'm sure you'll find someone to fit them."
As Sharon bet, Helo looked at his cards, and tried not to smile. It looked like he was going to get his pants back, after all.
"So now you want my shirt?" he asked Kara when it was his turn to bet. Glancing at Sharon, she shook her head.
"I want you to kiss our girl," she said.
Helo sat back, and looked at Sharon. He was sure of his hand, and Kara must have known it.
Sharon looked at him, and he raised a questioning eyebrow. Almost imperceptibly, she nodded.
It was good enough for him.
Leaning forward, he raised a hand to touch Sharon's cheek. She bit her bottom lip, and he felt the blood rush away from his head as she leaned forward into him, closing her eyes.
"Just get on with it," Kara said. Helo barely heard her.
Moving forward, he caught Sharon's lips with his; as her lips parted slightly, he moved his hand to the back of her head, trying to remember to breathe as her tongue entered his mouth. He returned the kiss eagerly; when they finally broke away, it felt like an eternity had passed.
"Full colours," he said, when he finally trusted himself to speak. He laid his cards on the table, and smiled.
"So how does it feel?" he asked Sharon, leaning back against the wall. His head was spinning, and she laughed, colour rushing to her cheeks.
"Frakking awesome," she said, draining her glass. Helo joined her, and wavering slightly, refilled them both.
"You deserve it," he told her, his words slightly slurred.
She smiled. "I couldn't have done it without you."
Helo didn't notice when they stood, but suddenly Sharon was leaning into him as she lost her balance, and his arm tightened around her waist. She looked up at him, and she was so close he could practically taste the illicit alcohol on her breath.
"Thanks," she said softly. Though she had regained her balance, she didn't move away, and Helo turned her to face him, moving his other arm above her hip.
His breath caught in his throat, and he was bending down before he gave himself time to think about it, this time really tasting the alcohol on her lips. They were soft, and a little wet, and they opened to his touch. His arms tightened around her, pulling her into him, and they broke the kiss only when he stumbled, his back pressed against the wall.
Sharon looked up at him again, and Helo resisted the urge to suck his bottom lip into his mouth, to savour the taste of her. He smiled.
"You're welcome," he said.
It was eleven seconds until the new season celebrations, and Sharon was standing so close to him Helo could smell the shampoo she'd brought with her from her last trip off base. She was smiling, her eyes bright underneath the dim lights, and he reached out to take her hand. Around them, the noise of the party swelled, dull in comparison to her, and Helo could almost hear, somewhere, the clock counting down.
"New season," he whispered as the party reached its climax. She laughed, and before he had time to talk himself out of it, to tell himself it was nothing more than religious superstition, he leaned forward, capturing her in a kiss.
He could barely hear the rush of the party around them as she leaned into him, into his kiss, and her lips parted. His tongue flicked gently across hers only for a second before he pulled back, searching her eyes for a sign that he'd gone too far.
He found none, and let out a breath he hardly knew he'd been holding.
"New season," she whispered, as she was swept away by the crowd.
Helo could feel the pounding of his head as Sharon piloted the Raptor off Caprica. Could hear the mingled voices of the crowd as they had vied for a seat, for a chance to live in anything other than a radioactive wasteland overrun by Cylons. He tried to remember their faces, an exercise he knew was futile even as he attempted it; they rushed away almost as soon as he could summon them. There had been so many of them, so many people they couldn't save, and he didn't look outside as they flew away, leaving the people to what they knew were their deaths.
He could see the face of Gaius Baltar, the man he had broken the rules trying to save, before Sharon had pushed him inside the Raptor, stronger than he could have imagined, and told him that they couldn't break the rules. That he couldn't save everyone.
That she wasn't leaving him behind.
He didn't make small talk with those they had saved; pretended, instead, that he was much too busy navigating to be distracted. Sharon did, chatting to a boy sitting up front even as she flew, and he found his gaze drawn to her even as he tried to make sense of what had happened; why some people would die and others live based on nothing more than blind luck.
It didn't make sense to him. But as he watched her, he knew he couldn't bring himself to regret her decision.
As she landed the Raptor, choppy as always - and gods, he would have missed that about her if he'd stayed behind - and the refugees began to climb out, he took her wrist gently, and pulled her towards him.
He didn't question what he was doing as he kissed her; soft, tender, brief enough to appear innocuous to anyone passing by. He pulled away with something he already knew to be regret, dipping his head slightly to look her in the eyes.
"Thank you," he told her.
She was beautiful when she slept. Not that she wasn't always beautiful; but lying there, her eyes closed, he could almost forget everything between them, all of the reasons he wasn't supposed to look at her the way he was doing now, all of the reasons he wasn't supposed to think that she was beautiful. Just concentrate on the rush he felt every time he looked at her.
Except that she had come back for him, and maybe that did mean more than he had allowed himself to think.
She stirred slightly, her eyes almost flicking open, and Helo tried not to smile. It was a losing battle, her knew, but one he was used to fighting.
And then, just as he had thought she might wake, she was asleep again, and Helo couldn't stop himself moving forward.
A losing battle.
He leaned over, and as gently as he could manage, placed a kiss on her forehead. Her eyes fluttered again, and she murmured something and rolled over.
Helo sighed. Some wars weren't meant to be won.
Sharon searched Helo's eyes for some sign that he wasn't serious, that he didn't really mean to die just so someone else could take his place. For some sign that she could talk him out of it.
She found none, and she couldn't honestly say that she was surprised. She knew what kind of man Helo was. He was the kind of man that made him worth crying over.
She blinked back the tears as they came; this wasn't the time, wasn't the place. Her last few moments with him would not be spent in mourning.
Instead, she moved forward, and before he could say anything, before the assembled crowd could rush the ship, she wrapped her hand around his neck, pulling him down to kiss her.
For a moment, he was still; and then he returned her kiss, hot and hungry, the last meal of a dying man. She didn't allow herself to think that she had given him something to live for; but maybe, just maybe, she had given him something to die for.
She didn't bother trying to block the tears as she pulled away, and she searched his eyes for all the things that she wanted to say.
"I know," he told her. "Now go."