On New Caprica, Gaeta is caught up in something different, yet the same. (Post-LYBD II)
Timesheets were his distraction.
Most people would have died of dread and boredom when it came time to do the monthly Presidential payroll, but to Gaeta it became the consuming goal of his life, getting hours and credits distributed in the most correct ... most efficient ... way possible.
Not that those credits were worth anything. But even paper intentions were better than nothing at all.
Nothing. That's exactly what they had on New Caprica, once the settlement had been haphazardly erected. Nothing at all.
All around Gaeta there walked tired, muddy souls, some of them glaring at him still (he was, after all, the man who "discovered" the fraud that sent them there), but most of them were past the point of caring.
There were a couple of stragglers that nodded and smiled, but Gaeta was wary of them. He was enough of a ladder-climber to know when he saw them.
And ladder-climbers in times of want were dangerous people indeed.
President Baltar saw none of this. Partly because it was Gaeta's job to make sure he didn't see it, partly because the President was too stoned and drunk on sex to bother. There should have been guilt associated with this obfuscation, but three years aboard the Galactica had honed Gaeta's pragmatic side to a cynical-fine edge.
Yes, it was wrong to let the President go on like this.
But it was a hell of a lot easier than any of the alternatives.
Not to mention less damaging to what was left of his own existence. There were no guarantees in this brave new world of theirs except one; if Gaeta kept the women and drugs flowing, kept the bad news at bay ... he would live.
Live. Not exactly well, but at least there would be water as well as two meals a day and a roof over his head; which was more than any New Caprica resident could be assured of. Warm clothes on his back; those were a given, as the President had certain fashion standards he liked to uphold.
But ... yeah ... water. Food. Roof. Clothing.
All for the singularly inexpensive price of his soul.
Gaeta had no home to speak of, except for his office where his years in the military came in handy when making a nest on the floor next to his desk that could be easily swept away for the endless morning meetings. He had no friends, as few trusted him and those who claimed to, couldn't be trusted.
There were no lovers either, except on that one occasion when one of Baltar's female "distractions" proposed a night together when she'd been shut out of the action, either due to the skill of her rival or the apathy of her client.
He'd accepted with enthusiasm, not knowing exactly why.
Maybe it was loneliness. Maybe it was some sort of spiteful revenge. Maybe it was the slight traces of Baltar's scent still clinging to her, as he couldn't get enough of pressing his face against her neck and inhaling deeply, treasuring an imagined moment brought just a little bit closer.
It lasted a long time, most of the night and when it was over they parted -- him with a splitting headache, her with a knowing smirk.
They never spoke to each other again.
Although looks were exchanged regularly, sometimes right over the President's desk, both hateful and longing and Gaeta wished to hells and back he hadn't been so weak.
He simply couldn't afford it.
Baltar never noticed. The pills helped in that regard, except they had the infuriating side effect of making everything Gaeta brought to his attention trivial ... a minor annoyance.
Even when they weren't. Gods, the unions were at the end of their rope and silently Gaeta cursed The Chief's obstinate, incorruptible nature. He'd learned a lot since the debacle of the elections and was no longer was above using bribery to get what was needed to keep the peace.
Gaeta thought that with Cally pregnant, he'd get some leeway on the union issue, but she was as much a mule as the Chief was and damn it .. neither one of them budged in the slightest.
It seemed there was no winning in this situation. Damn them both to hells.
"Do you have my pills?" the President asked him that morning, after not listening to a single word of the update Gaeta provided him with.
Gaeta had to resist the urge to hand him the package of rodent poison he'd obtained for the school, as the alien rats had been occasionally attacking some of the schoolchildren, biting them as they sat and tried to learn about the history of the dead civilization they'd all once called home.
He handed Baltar the plastic bottle, unable to hide his disgust as the man swallowed three of the small white tablets. Three pills, in a time when medicines were so precious, they were denied to the dying.
Disgusting. Even Scylla, the woman Gaeta had taken to bed on that desperate night looked perturbed and they exchanged another look over Baltar's head, this one feeling like a kind of mutual loathing.
It only lasted a second, but desperate men were quick to grab at straws that signified they weren't alone.
Perhaps desperate women were too.
He tried to bring up the unions again, but Baltar would have none of it. He motioned for the girls and they obeyed with that slow, deliberate languor men like Baltar found so attractive.
Baltar grunted, demanding a glass of ambrosia and Gaeta tried to catch Scylla's eye again, but she ignored him. Unions weren't her problem and that was the way the world went.
This brave, sweet new world.
Gaeta was quickly dismissed after procuring the sedatives, with even less thought than Col. Tigh granted him, that miserable old bastard. He's not sure why he thought this position wouldn't be like that; that it would be a station of dignity, but of course, he'd been wrong before.
Now he was mistaken in a way that there seemed no escape from. Mistaken and lost in the white waves of a circular death. Everything was different, yet some things had yet to change and he didn't know why he was surprised when there came a signal from the communications center he'd never heard before, at least not while on land.
It had been in the endless sea of space when he'd last heard it, the crazed, circular alarm of incoming Cylon enemies, but this time ...
He was helpless to stop the whirlpool from taking them -- all of them -- under.
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