Dee exists for something, something that isn't exactly love. [Lee/Dee, Gaeta/Dee, Lee/Kara]
She's been staring at them for what feels like days, but blindly, seeing nothing except the sight of Lee's bloody lips parting and him mouthing words over Kara's shoulder, words that look like a kiss.
Dee's glad she can't hear him -- seeing was enough -- and time moves so slowly, while the air around her is so thick and suffocating with muted, faraway noises, she thinks that maybe it's a nightmare but she's never had a nightmare like this, where everything in her small world crumbles in the blink of an eye.
Only reality could be so cruel, this much she knows.
Lee doesn't love her, he probably never loved her and Dee suddenly remembers Billy's ugly little ring, the one he handed to her like a heart.
At least I didn't marry him/, she thinks viciously. /At least I didn't keep lying.
Although she probably would have, if he hadn't died and Lee had still hesitated. Billy would have come back to her too, after all this, but even his ring is gone and Dee's grief winds down into something that she can no longer feel, except as a weight on her chest; a square stone of punishment around her neck, the kind they used to give to faithless women to wear in days long past.
Kara's husband is long gone. Dee has no idea where, but it's probably easier for him to leave in a way. He has a life outside of this circle, he can make things work out for himself and all she had was Lee and her father ...
Later, she finds herself alone, in the far corner of the makeshift boxing gym. The only sign of Lee is his blood splattered on the mat, but it's mingled with Kara's and Dee can't look at it, so she keeps her eyes focused anywhere else.
The only other person there is Gaeta and he's counting money on a table by the blackboard. He's bent seriously over this work, his face taut and he knows she's there, his body language says so, but he keeps flicking the bills over one another, tapping them into piles without a word. Dee thinks vaguely he has enough there to buy himself a bottle of booze and a sex worker, or however that stupid saying goes.
He'd looked at her during the fight, then over to Lee, realization dawning over him, and if it was that frakkin' obvious to someone usually so oblivious in matters of the heart, then she truly is screwed and the leaden weight on her chest pulls at her, hard, making her throat tight and her eyes water with tears demanding to be set free.
A moment later she's crying, hard and loud, and Gaeta's taps the money harder, with vicious motions, his mouth drawn into a tight crease. He's struggling not to look at her, but eventually there's no fighting it and when he turns to face her, he looks even more devastated than Dee feels.
"I can't help you," he says, his voice shaking. "I can't help anyone, Dee. Because I can't even help myself."
For some reason that stops her tears cold. She wipes at her face and examines him for a few seconds, the sickly pall of his cheeks, the shadows under his eyes. He looks small and defenseless and instead of making her uncomfortable, it warms her in a way she doesn't want to examine too closely.
If she wanted to, she could probably edge up to him and gentle the blue shadows with her finger, cup his cold cheek with her palm and trace his lips with her thumb ... yes, that first ... then with her tongue and he'd bend into her kiss without an ounce of fight, because Felix was never very good at fighting, except in ways where no one knew that's what he was doing.
It would be so very easy to kiss him this way and Dee needs easy right now, so that's what she does, almost without thinking. When he finally gasps and pulls away, his eyes huge with shock, his jaw hanging slack, he looks exactly the way she might have wished an opponent might look, had she decided to get into the ring herself.
Suddenly, there's an invisible finger pointing to her, proclaiming the match hers and blessedly, she finds she can breathe again.
Lee, as usual, is all business the next morning, coming in at dawn without an explanation, making small jokes while he shaves and taking a slurp of the coffee she hands him before heading out to flight training.
"Bye, hon," he says, rushing out with awkward speed, nearly shutting the hatch door on his hand.
"Bye," she says to the closed door.
He'd kissed her forehead before he left, like a man kissing his mother and Dee spends the next hour ironing her uniform to a sharply creased vision of perfection. She ties her hair back into a sleek tail, remembering that Lee likes it loose and debates cutting it off at all together, but she won't do that for any man, especially not /him/.
She strides out her quarters and it's not really a detour when she walks straight to Gaeta's rack, an alcove hidden behind some large machinery; a gift of privacy given out of respect for his rank ... and other issues.
Dualla knows about Gaeta's problems and before the fight she truly cared, at least in that way you care about a nice neighbor who's had a particular hard time of late. But that's when Dee could afford to care, in the time before she needed something and when she pulls back the curtain, she has no moment of tenderness at the sight of his rumpled sleep, no gentle thoughts of a lover, only this need that he's proved himself good at fulfilling.
That why when he wakes up to her sucking his cock, he reacts exactly in the way she hoped he would, holding her head in his hands and pushing her down to take in more, which she does with enthusiasm.
He's choking her a little and its very good, even better when he yanks at her beautifully pressed trousers, pulling them down just enough to angle himself inside of her, stabbing his hips upward, frakking her senselessly.
He doesn't talk about love, he only growls how wet she is, how tight she is and how she should take it ... take it ... take it and she grits her teeth, tightening herself around him as she rises and falls, digging her nails into his shoulders, hard enough to leave marks.
The orgasm he gives her is blinding and leaves her shuddering for moments afterwards. When recovered, Dee fumbles while pulling on her pants, finally giving up and leaving the clasp for him. She climbs off and smooths down her hair with the hand that's relatively clean.
Bleary-eyed, Gaeta stares at her, the stubble thick on his chin, his hair wilder than she's ever seen it. "You need a haircut," she says mildly, brushing some dampness away from her pants. "Or maybe not," she reconsiders. Her lips curve into a strained smile. "It's not a bad look."
He shrugs. "Glad to hear I have a look." His eyes narrow. His tone is blunt. "Are you coming back? I just need to know."
"I have no idea," she replies. "But ... probably."
She can see he's mulling over this answer, debating whether to tell her to go frak herself or not. Finally ...
"Then I'll see you in probably," he says tiredly, turning over on his rack, facing the wall, his eyes closed.
Bending down, she kisses the top of his head, fondly, a kiss not unlike the one Lee gave her that morning. Courtesy dictates she close the curtains behind her, which she does with a snappy zip.
I feel good today/, she thinks, striding toward the CIC, accepting salutes as she goes. /Very, very good.
On duty, everyone is so professional, it's almost laughable. Problems are discovered, then solved and battles are fought without so much as a single inappropriate outburst.
Dee still flips Lee the same little on-air endearments she always did, Gaeta still rolls his eyes with frustration at her when the Old Man gives a ridiculous order and Kara still swaggers with defiance through everyone's life, not caring what she does to whom, except there is a change in the air, a twist to these actions only the four players can discern.
Ironic then that Dee is the only one who knows what's going on in each of the four corners, like a heartless referee. Years of being the communications officer has had some use, she thinks bitterly, watching Lee and Kara's Vipers dance together over the readouts, in wild lines of joy.
Gaeta's working very, very hard at not paying any particular attention to her, but when she bends over to give him the latest batch of orders, "accidentally" brushing her fingers against the nape of his neck, a body-long shiver gives him away.
How quickly knowledge turns to power and Dee takes her post with a confident stance, her hands behind her back. When Lee patches into her, she responds with aching sweetness, which he's forced to return in kind.
"I love, love, love you, Mr. Apollo."
"And I love you, Mrs. Apollo."
"Forever and ever, Mr. Apollo."
"Till the end of always."
She ends the message with a little flourish. To her left, Gaeta is looking intently at her and she grins lasciviously in reply, letting the heat she feels fill her eyes.
She has never felt more in control and gods, it is /glorious/.
Months later and it's Colonial Day, again.
Lee is in his dress browns, which Dee has forgone for a shimmering gown Gaeta procured for her somehow, using his earnings from the little side business he's been running on the sly, taking bets on anything and everything from sanctioned fights to wrestling to impromptu Pyramid matches aboard the prison ship.
This is the second time she's wearing it, the first time was when she tried it on for Gaeta, sans underwear and allowed him to drop to his knees and frak her with his tongue.
"Good boys deserve rewards" she'd whispered as he licked. "While bad boys ..."
"Deserve marriage," he'd replied with muffled sarcasm, until she shut him up with a hard grind against his mouth.
"Exactly," she hissed, before allowing her orgasm to overtake her.
The memory makes her smile, even as Lee stands stiffly at her side, his right arm locked into position as a formal placeholder for Dee's hand.
Dee, on the other hand, clings to him, smiling and laughing, as if there is nothing in the world that could possibly be more wonderful than this moment and in a way, there isn't, especially when Kara walks by, dressed to the nines, in low-cut blue, her sad eyes drifting toward Lee who looks alternately stunned and abashed, until he's forced to look away.
"She looks darling," Dee says to him, without a hint of sarcasm. "Don't you think so?"
"Who?" he asks clumsily.
"Kara, silly." She smacks his arm, before leaning over to kiss his cheek. They take their table, the one that's been reserved for them and Dee entwines the fingers of their left hands together, so that their wedding rings touch. "She's very beautiful."
Across the room, Gaeta stands at the bar, also forgoing his dress uniform for a tailored black suit that must have cost him a month in illicit earnings and he's smoking, taking in yet more underground bets and ignoring Dee for the most part, except for one glance -- a look that is both mocking and smoldering; a look she would never have thought he'd been capable of a few years before.
But he is now. And she knows exactly who is responsible for it, a thought that makes her pussy twitch with pleasure.
"I've never noticed," Lee is saying, his voice sounding far away. "Why are we caring so much about how Kara looks?"
Dee forces herself to look back at him. "Oh, I don't. I just like to call things as I see them." She snuggles closer. "It's our second Colonial Day together, you know. How should we celebrate?"
"The usual way, I guess." Lee shifts in his chair, his thumbnail clicking against the tight band around his finger. "Drink ... dance ... other stuff."
"I do love doing 'other stuff'," Dee whispers, leaning in and passionately kissing the side of Lee's neck.
Out of the corner of her eye she can see Gaeta pocketing a very large roll of cash. He stubs out his spent cigarette and almost immediately lights another.
"Drinks for everyone!" he calls out over the bar, gaining himself a small cheer. Drinks are poured for all the tables and as traditional, the room lifts their glasses to him. "To the ladies," Gaeta toasts, looking at Kara with lazy, narrow eyes. "All of them, lovely and otherwise." He pauses as Kara stares. "Not that anyone in here could be classified as 'otherwise', I'm sure."
"Here, here!" the men yell out, some of them catcalling and everyone raises the glass to their lips, except for Dee, who merely runs her finger along the rim in languid circles.
"He's certainly improved his lot, hasn't he?" Lee asks Dee, as Gaeta somehow gets the bartender to pull out an impossible-to-find bottle of real ambrosia, which he pours out in obscene amounts to anyone standing nearby.
"Has he?" Dee asks innocently, her fingers touching the smooth hem of her dress. "I haven't noticed." She shrugs. "Besides, what good is money without love?"
"How do you know he doesn't have love?" Lee asks, unable to keep his gaze off of Kara for more than a few seconds at a time.
It's been getting worse lately, this lack of self-control on Lee's part, and Dee has been reveling in almost every second of it.
"Because people in love are invariably poor," Dee says eventually, resting her head on Lee's shoulder, speaking dreamily into space. "Always distracted from the mundane business of life, they float on clouds of denial, always deprived of material things, but living for their dreams, whether they are together or apart, that hopeful day when there is nothing existing for them but love."
At this, Lee glances curiously at her. "Who wrote that?"
"Some idiot," Dee laughs gaily, laughter which Lee weakly joins. "Oh, darling," she sighs, catching his gaze and brutally holding it there. "Promise me you'll always love me as much as the day you proposed to me."
Such a weighted promise.
/Who's wearing the stone now?/, she thinks.
Lee's face falls and he pales, but he quickly nods. "I'll always love you. You've been very good to me, Dee."
"And no one's ever treated me the way you have," Dee replies darkly and for a second, she almost cracks, but having control is too addictive a feeling to be let go of so casually, so she swallows down her white-hot rage. "Promise me we'll always try to make it work. That we'll never, ever give up on our marriage."
"You've been very good to me, Dee," Lee repeats, hoarsely. "I want to make this work."
"And we will," she whispers, before kissing him, chastely on the lips, like a woman who exists for something ...
Something that isn't exactly love.
Behind her she knows that Gaeta is still drinking, maybe even staring outright and later on, she might punish him for it, by making him beg and crawl and do everything he'll hate himself and love her for, those cruel little things lovers like to do to each other, if only to show that pain and pleasure, sometimes, is one and the same.
Just like Lee and Kara, she thinks, and finally, she raises her full glass to Kara who stands directly across the room from them, holding her own cocktail, her face unreadable.
"To our lovely Kara Thrace," Dee says, with all the sincerity in the world. "The greatest warrior who's ever lived."
Slowly, Lee joins her in that toast, as does Gaeta. "Agreed," he says and they all drink at once, like four stars drinking in the darkness, a four-cornered stone with cracks running every which way, but is held together through the furious will of its very atoms.
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