SUMMARY: She just plain has to get out of this tiny box now or she'll suffocate on the bad air that's built up in the last several weeks.
PAIRING/CHARACTERS: Lee/Dee, Dee/Billy, Dee/Jim
TIMELINE: Set some time after Unfinished Business.
DISCLAIMER: These characters do not belong to me and no copyright infringement is intended on my part.
WORD COUNT: 1,300
NOTE: This was meant to be a story for bsg_pornbattle but somehow porn didn't feel quite right. Hope you enjoy it all the same.
It's 2200 hours and Lee hasn't come home yet, even though Dee knows he got off duty at 1900 hours. She's sick to death of tapping her heels and pretending she doesn't know exactly who he's with right now. She's read all the books in their quarters and there's nothing good on the wireless. She just plain has to get out of this tiny box now or she'll suffocate on the bad air that's built up in the last several weeks.
She walks into Joe's with a determined step. She'll find a few friendly faces, have a drink or two and forget her troubles. But she finds the bar nearly empty. There's just a few tables occupied by couples furtively canoodling. She seats herself at the bar, tries not to sigh. The tall, taciturn bartender pours her a shot of whatever moonshine they've got behind the bar. It's all they have these days.
Dee downs half the shot and tries not to cough as it burns its way down to her stomach. She's never been much of a drinker—unlike some people, who could probably stand a stint in rehab, if such a thing existed anymore. It doesn't work. She chokes and coughs.
"Lightweight," says a vaguely familiar male voice behind her.
She whirls around on her stool and it's Jim from the CIC. Dee doesn't know him all that well. They're usually scheduled on opposite shifts. She knows that he's a systems engineer, is reported to be a good triad player, and likes to play stupid practical jokes on Gaeta. He's frequently seen in the company of Pam, the comms operator. Dee used to have the rack just below Pam's. Pam and Jim seem to be good friends but definitely aren't an item since Pam is engaged to one of the knuckledraggers, some guy whose name Dee can never remember.
"I am," Dee says ruefully. "Want the rest of my shot?"
Jim sits on the stool next to her. "Nah. Enjoy the fine bouquet of turpentine yourself." He signals the bartender.
She sips at the remainder of her shot. Gods, it's terrible. She always enjoyed the girlie drinks more—the kind that were made in a blender and came garnished with fruit and paper umbrellas.
"Where's your better half?" Jim asks.
The bartender fills Dee's shot glass, even though she hasn't asked for another.
"That bad, huh?"
"That bad." She tries to smile but suspects it comes out as a grimace.
She's relieved that Lee and Kara aren't here at Joe's, that they don't have the nerve. Lords only know where they are, but Dee's pretty sure she knows exactly what they're doing.
Jim downs his shot and screws up his face. Just then, he reminds Dee a little of Billy. Earnest Billy with his boyish face and guileless eyes. Jim has eyes like that.
"Can I tell you something?" Jim asks in a voice so quiet she almost can't hear him.
"I don't know you very well, but I know this—you deserve better."
She flinches, feeling her face grow warm. How does he know what's going on? And how dare he bring it up? But of course he knows. Everyone in the Fleet must know by now. Gossip travels at faster-than-light speed. She's got to be the laughingstock of Galactica.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said that. Way out of line," Jim mumbles.
Dee swallows her shot in one gulp and this time it doesn't really burn. "No, it's fine," she says. "I don't know why I do this to myself." The ring on her finger, the ring she was once so proud of, feels like it weighs a ton on her finger.
Another round of shots from the stoic bartender.
"I often wonder that myself." Jim is staring into space.
"Why people settle for less. Love someone who doesn't love them back enough."
"Yeah," she says, nodding. Her head feels light, like it just might fly away. "Yeah."
"I mean, don't get me wrong, Dee. Prince Adama's a nice guy, but..."
"But he doesn't love me enough." She chokes back another shot. She wishes she had a slice of lime to suck on to take the harsh taste from her mouth.
"Shit, I'm sorry. Here I hardly know you and I'm getting into your personal business. So, how about those C-Bucks?"
Dee laughs. It's the first genuine laugh she can remember in a long time. "I'd kill to be able to go to a pyramid game. Eat a hot dog. Cheer myself hoarse."
"Tailgate in the parking lot. A cold plastic cup of cheap beer."
They clink glasses and swallow.
They talk and laugh some more. Drink another couple of shots until Dee is really feeling no pain at all. She likes the way Jim's hair is just a little too long for regs, how it kind of curls up in back. She wonders why she couldn't have ended up with someone like Jim. An uncomplicated guy who could love her with an unswerving loyalty. But of course she was with someone like that and she threw him over for Lee with his brooding, his muscular arms and the Adama mystique. Gods, she was stupid. Tears sting her eyes as she pictures Billy bleeding out on the floor.
Jim touches her arm. "Are you okay?"
She nods and tries to smile. "I just wish...I wish everything wasn't so complicated."
"Tell me about it." He nods slowly.
She wants to ask him what his story is but it doesn't seem appropriate somehow. She's sure that he has one, though. Everyone does. But it's probably a sad story, something about a girl he once loved before the worlds ended and she doesn't know if she can handle one more sad story on top of the thousands in her head.
It's almost 0100 hours and she really needs to get back home and sleep, even though the thought of returning to her quarters where her husband may or may not be makes her stomach clench.
"I need to be getting back," she says and stands. For a second the everything whirls by her eyes much too quickly and she has to grab onto Jim's shoulder to keep from toppling over.
"Whoa," he says. "Steady as she goes."
"I shouldn't drink. It never works."
"It never does," he says, smiling, but his eyes seem sad. He stands up. "Come on, Lieutenant, I'll walk you home."
The ship's corridors are mostly deserted at this hour. Still, she wonders what Lee would think if he came upon her weaving down the passageway on Specialist Halpert's arm. She wonders if he'd even care.
They stop in front of her hatch. She wishes she could grab Jim's hand and they could run away forever. Somewhere safe and warm, where nothing could hurt them.
"You going to be all right?"
"Nothing an aspirin and some water can't cure," she says, smiling up at him.
"Good." He bends down and kisses her on the cheek. "Thanks, Dee."
His smile is fleeting and she can't really read whatever's in his eyes. "It's nothing." He turns and walks down the corridor.
She opens the hatch and the room is dark, but she can tell Lee's in bed.
Dee undresses and slides in next to him.
"Where have you been?" he mumbles sleepily. She can smell the alcohol on his breath, or maybe it's the alcohol on hers.
"Out," she says and rolls onto her side, away from him.
She thinks about what Jim said to her. You deserve better.
I do, she thinks, imagining Jim's face. I really do.