Title: Intrinsic Betrayal
Rating: R, for language and sexual overtones
Fandom: Battlestar Galactica
Pairing: Starbuck/Boomer (aka, Kara/Sharon)
Spoiler alert: I didn’t watch much of the first season, but I think this hints at some of the things that happened in it and contains a lot of canon from season 2 up to epi 2.6 (Home, Part 1). If you don’t want to be spoiled, don’t read this.
Archiving: This will be at www.realmoftheshadow.com/harper.htm with the rest of my drivel. Kim is kind enough to house it there. If anyone else would like it, please ask.
A/N: I think Starbuck is yummy, which really isn’t apropos of anything. Just sharing. Anyway, feel free to let me know what you think. I’ll be at Xfjnky2@yahoo.com.
Starbuck had always had a difficult time separating the personal from the professional. Her past was littered with mistakes, most of them made with the line between the two worlds so blurred as to be non-existent, and some days she wished she’d just figure out how to learn better, to break the cycle of retreaded errors. But she didn’t, really, always caught up in the heat of the moment. Sympathy, desire, anger, lust… a never-ending cloud bank roiling over her judgment.
Which was partly why, she supposed, she couldn’t find it in her to take Helo to the side, to tell him he was making a fool of himself and to outline in five paragraph format just why it was he couldn’t possibly have loved a machine or anticipate loving the promised result of that joining. Not that he would have listened, she imagined, because he’d risked his pride as well as his life protecting Sharon so many times since she’d met up with them both on Caprica that she’d lost count. He’d stopped her when she’d trained her pistol on the Cylon with all of the strength she could muster, aching ribs and possible concussion not withstanding, trembling in her hand making it not a foregone conclusion that she’d put the bullet anywhere that would cause a sudden (and not drawn out and painful) death. Put himself between her and their enemy, screaming what had seemed like insane delusions about their child, and she’d let her prey get away.
Not for long, though, and she had to give Sharon some credit. She was either brave, abysmally stupid, or crazy in love because she just kept coming back. Each time risked a bullet to the head, or better yet the belly, even if it did seem like she brought more good luck than bad.
She thought she knew the real reason behind Helo’s actions, the one that didn’t have a damn thing to do with some alleged, so-called baby in utero. Helo was in love, plain and simple, and even if his head told him it wasn’t possible, his heart hadn’t yet let go. And why should it, Starbuck wondered, when he had the memory of feelings and emotions and soft warm skin and hot inviting wetness to keep him company. Whatever she was, Helo had fallen for her, and fallen hard. Understandable, really, given their constant flight and seemingly never ending march one step ahead of death. Starbuck knew what that was like. Survival had nothing to do with life as anyone knew it, and when your whole world was stripped down to food and shelter and breathing just one more day in the hope that there was something better out there, the bonds created rivaled steel.
Besides, how does the brain accept that it has been so thoroughly duped? Falling in love with a machine had to be the master mind-fuck of the universe. Machines didn’t think, didn’t feel, didn’t love… so why did it feel so real?
Kara knew something about that herself.
She wasn’t self-deluding or ashamed enough to pretend that she was anything close to chaste. Sex was something she enjoyed, something she craved, something she used to put a temporary patch on the gaping hole in her soul. It came and went easily, and she was probably more apt to use the “right time, right place” method of selection as she was to carefully plan a seduction. And so when they’d come back from a successful mission, measured these days in lack of causalities as much as anything else, she’d unwrapped a cigar, broke open the seal on a bottle of tequila and settled in for a little life-affirming hedonism. Poker was her game of choice, no matter the tablemates, and Starbuck ruled in her own little kingdom.
“Inside straight,” she said with a flourish, laying her cards down with a near feral grin. This pot would see her with everyone’s winnings, and she was more than happy to ride her victory out to the bitter end. Groans and the slap of red checked cards followed her announcement and she grinned widely around the butt of a long since smoked cigar. Chuckling, she said drolly, “I don’t even know why you try.”
Baltar, as always, was snippy, his psyche unable to handle defeat, especially at her hands. “Good luck only lasts so long, Lieutenant.”
Trying hard to suppress an incipient eye-roll, Starbuck had merely grinned even wider. “Maybe so, but it lasted long enough tonight, didn’t it?”
With a disdainful sniff, Balter managed to stalk away in a way that conveyed the royal snit/temper tantrum he was throwing, and Starbuck couldn’t help but laugh. “Who pissed in his cornflakes?”
“You, I think.”
The droll comment came from the normally slightly reserved Boomer, and after a second of stunned silence, Starbuck laughed again. “Guilty as charged, I guess. Can’t say I’m particularly upset about it.”
Looking around at the bemused officers observing her moment of triumph, Starbuck took a minute to gloat in her victory. Then, wrapping a hand around the long, tapered neck of the bottle of tequila, she lifted it high, the shining amber liquid held within shifting fluidly. “I’ve got half a bottle left. Who’s drinking with me tonight?”
She didn’t remember how much later it was that she was left alone with Boomer, the rest of her tablemates having disappeared one by one. The other woman was looking a bit woozy herself, eyelids drooping heavily, and as Starbuck drained the last drop of liquor from the bottle, she couldn’t hold in the sigh. “Ready to call it a night, Lieutenant?” she asked with a raised brow, the words sounding somewhat obscene despite any lack of clear intent.
“I think I’m going to have to,” Boomer said weakly, rising unsteadily to her feet. “With all due respect, I don’t see how you’re still conscious.”
“What, this?” Starbuck asked, tapping a blunt nail against the glass of the bottle. “Takes more than that.”
“For you, maybe,” Boomer muttered, one hand smoothing back her hair absently, eyes soft and unfocused.
Smirking, Starbuck pushed back from the table, ignoring the mess left in the wake of her impromptu party. “Come on, Lieutenant. You can lean on me.”
Starbuck wasn’t large by any means, but she felt that way with Boomer pressed tightly against her side. The other woman was short and slim, body nothing but lean muscle and Kara suddenly felt bulky and awkward.
The walk to Boomer’s room was short, and Starbuck kicked open her door with a decisive movement, inordinately pleased with the rather showy gesture. The door flung open with just the right amount of respect, revealing the relatively cramped interior of the space inside. Bunk beds took up the whole of one wall, leaving precious little room for much of anything else, though none of them had many personal effects left anyway so the lack of trinkets was more common than not. Kicking the door closed behind her, she led Boomer over to the bottom of the two bunks, easing her down on the mattress and collapsing down beside her, body suddenly a little drained.
“Welcome to my humble home,” Boomer drawled sarcastically, a slight flutter of her hand highlighting the space’s bare contents. “Please, feel free to make use of the amenities, such as they are.”
“I could stand to use the head,” Starbuck said slowly, as if the thought required a vast amount of her store of depleted energy.
A minute later she was wiping freshly washed hands on her pants, boots loud against the floor as she stepped back into Boomer’s living chambers. The other woman had leaned back against the wall, her legs dangling off the side of the bunk, body slumped in an unconsciously seductive pose. She was watching Starbuck with the intensity of a hawk, dark eyes unreadable. Her tee shirt was wrinkled, pushed up slightly to expose just a sliver of almond skin, and Starbuck licked and then bit her bottom lip, pushing back thoughts she knew she shouldn’t be having.
“Guess I’ll be going,” she uneasily, awkward now. The silence was oppressive, the mood too heavy for her, filled with anticipation and uncertainty. Her mind was telling her to go, to extricate herself from the situation before she let what little self-control she had vanish, but Starbuck had always been more of an id than an ego. So she didn’t move, just looked at Boomer from under lowered lashes, golden eyes glowing in the muted darkness of the room.
Voice a harsh rasp she’d never heard before, heart racing and stomach light and giddy, Boomer said, “No need to rush off.”
Kara felt it instantly, the spark that lit low in her abdomen and spread out like a slow-growing wildfire until it burned through the last, flimsy layer of mental resistance. “No?” she asked lazily, a smirk curling up the corners of her mouth. “I thought you were tired.”
“I recovered,” Boomer said, mouth bone dry. She wasn’t entirely sure what she was doing, acting more on blind instinct that anything else, but somewhere in her tequila befuddled mind, her actions made complete sense.
Slinking over to the bed with feral smile firmly in place, decision cemented and the actions set in motion now careening wildly with little hope of stopping, Kara drawled, “Sounds like you’ve got something in mind, Lieutenant.”
She reached the bed in two short steps, her legs bumping up against the metal frame, nestled between Boomer’s. Leaning forward, bracing her hands on the mattress on either side of the other woman’s slim hips, she rasped, “Care to share?”
Boomer didn’t consciously remember instructing her hand to reach out, to wrap itself in the thin cotton fabric of Starbuck’s beige tee-shirt, but some part of her was aware of the strong flex of biceps that pulled the other woman to her, lips meeting fiercely.
Starbuck dropped to her knees on the mattress, body looming over the slim form beneath her, back hunched under the restrictive canopy of the bunk bed. Boomer’s eyes were dark pools of desire, her fingers searingly hot and sure against Kara’s skin.
Shaking her head, willing the memories to return to the hiding place to which they’d been relegated, Starbuck tried to forget the feel of the warm, resilient skin that had slid under her fingertips. She tried to forget firm lips and silky dark hair and the flex and play of tightly corded muscles. She tried, but couldn’t, and part of her refused to believe that something that had felt so fucking real… wasn’t. Boomer hadn’t been faking the wetness that had coated her fingers, the scent of arousal that had filled Kara’s lungs as she traced a wet trail down the other woman’s rippling abdomen to the juncture between her thighs. Those moans and screams hadn’t been manufactured, and the tremors and spasms that had run through the other woman’s body were as real as any Kara had ever felt before.
The next day had been business as usual, even if she couldn’t keep the smirk off her face and Boomer’s eyes seemed a little more liquid and knowing than usual. One night had turned into two and two into three until their trysts were scattered out in a long, uneven and asymmetrical line. Neither woman made any pretense that it was anything other than it was, but the bond of their physical connection was there, linking them.
Once she’d seen Boomer 2 or Boomer 7 or what the hell ever it was with Helo down on Caprica, Starbuck had felt a flash of irrational rage. She’d been duped, and expertly so, because there was no way that her memories could be of anything other than simple human pleasure. And this Boomer, this Sharon… this wasn’t her Boomer. She’d left her Boomer back on Galactica when she’d accepted what in retrospect looked like a suicide mission, and a copy could only mean one thing.
She had made love to a machine. And with not-her-Boomer ranting on in the background about her child and Helo abandoning everything he knew, every betrayal they’d faced, to protect one of the very machines responsible for turning their lives in the fracking hell that it was, part of her couldn’t quite understand. They wanted babies, didn’t they? That’s what she had slowly, and then forcibly, learned and had the scar to prove. They wanted to reproduce, and thought that maybe the one thing they were missing was love. Ludicrous as that sounded to her, since she doubted that an amorphous emotion could accomplish what biology could not, Boomer’s affair with her didn’t quite make any sense unless her particular Cylon lover had a few loose connections somewhere. Unless they’d perfected a method of reproduction that far outstripped human advancement, Galactica Boomer was seriously misguided as to the actualities of the birds and the bees and the baby bees. Because if that was what they sought, love and human connection so that they could bring forth life themselves and follow the scriptures that commanded them to be fruitful and multiply, then her erstwhile Boomer was in serious violation of the directive and definitely off-base in her assessment of Starbuck’s… abilities.
Given that, she didn’t quite know what the physical connection between them could mean. Were Cylons capable of feeling emotions, of feeling desire and lust, of wanting the all-too-human connection of warm skin and hot kisses and the possession to be had by questing fingers and tongues? She didn’t love Boomer and Boomer didn’t love her and as far as she could tell, the Cylon hadn’t had any ulterior motives. Boomer hadn’t tried to manipulate her or frame her or kill her or really do anything other than fuck her, and now she learns from Apollo that her Boomer put two slugs into Adama and was sitting it out in the brig back on Galactica waiting for the old man to wake up and hand down her fate. She couldn’t reconcile it, not with the Boomer she knew. The one who bumbled through a blossoming romance with Tyrol while she watched, who shot her sly looks and who seemed to take almost indecently hedonistic pleasure in sliding up and down the length of Starbuck’s torso just to feel the glide of silky smooth skin against skin.
She told herself to think of Boomer as a machine, because that’s what she inevitably turned out to be, but some part of her just couldn’t make it fit. Maybe that was why she’d stopped Apollo in the make-shift brig, why she’d pushed his arm down, told him there’d been enough killing. Or maybe she really believed the words, believed with some sort of soul deep weariness that it had simply been too much. Too much blood and too much pain, and this not-her-Boomer looking at her with scared eyes but risking her life over and over because she truly believed she was in love. Because she wanted Helo and she wanted her baby, and even though she talked in cool, calculating tones about how she possessed the knowledge of a Cylon, the aching need to be nothing more than human still played across her face. And Kara knew that most of it was an act, that not-her-Boomer wasn’t that brave and wasn’t that knowledgeable, just so desperately, stupidly in love that she’d pretend to be anything she had to be.
And then she remembered the strong pulse of that heartbeat under her ear, face pressed hard against the side of a breast slicked with sweat as they both struggled to bring their breathing in line, as slim fingers sifted absently through her hair. Even if she didn’t love Boomer and Boomer didn’t love her and her mind nearly tore itself to pieces, one side screaming for her to shoot the traitor and be done with it before it could bring the aberration supposedly growing inside her to life while the other side was left in befuddled confusion that nonetheless urged her to protect what she instinctively felt had to be more than just a machine, Kara could only grasp onto, could only know, one thing.
She didn’t blame Helo, didn’t feel any need to mock his confusion or his reluctant overprotective concern. She wasn’t sure what she would do in his place, or what she was going to do when she returned to Galactica to face a Boomer who had shot the man she regarded as a second father. All she did know was that it couldn’t all be a lie, couldn’t all be programming and circuitry. There had to be something more there, otherwise she and Helo wouldn’t feel like they felt, wouldn’t have done the things they’d done.
Not that she wouldn’t execute any other Cylon without thought, the rush of pleasure at seeing another one of the hybrid bastards destroyed enough to keep her high for hours. But this one, this not-her-Boomer… she had to be different.
Her Boomer… she had to be different, too.
She had to be.