There are no ranks here, there's only music in the air.
The card Jameson handed to him said only: "No Ranks. Section 12H, Hour 24."
Gaeta stared at the tiny piece of cardboard curiously before tossing it on the shelf above his rack. Jameson didn't say what it meant, he'd only implied that Gaeta could use it after the hellish few days he'd spent trying to debug the Galactica's mainframe -- an issue with the Cylons and their damned viruses, the blame for which could only be laid squarely upon his console after the Old Man's shooting.
Not that anyone had directly blamed him. Yet.
A few more frakups like that, however ...
Gaeta blew out a long breath. Pulled off the ridiculously hot top jacket of his uniform, grimacing at the sweat covering his arms. He felt filthy, but too tired to shower, which was the worst of all possible combinations.
Maybe if he climbed into his rack for a short nap, he'd find the energy to hit the showers and then ...
The last sound he remembered was of himself snoring.
"Do you believe in God?"
The woman asking him this question was Shelly Godfrey, the tall, gorgeous blonde who'd accused Dr. Baltar of being a Cylon conspirator.
Gaeta had found proof to the contrary -- or at least proof the evidence was fake -- but why was he here with her? Why was she asking him about religion? And which god was she talking about?
She had to be more specific, he thought dully. There's more than one god.
"I don't know," he replied neutrally.
"God believes in you," she whispered, her hot breath tickling his ear.
Where in Hades was he? Panic crawled up Gaeta's spine, in bursts of nervous heat. Was this a dream? A nightmare? It seemed so real.
"That's nice," he replied, his mouth dry.
"We all have to do God's will sometime," she continued, her long red nails reaching out to rake across his neck. She bent down, lightly pressing her lips to the scratches. "But for now, God will be merciful."
His throat turned horribly tight. He didn't remember ever being so frightened. "Please ..." he begged, not knowing what he was begging for.
He just didn't know and this realization devastated him. "Please help me," he cried wildly. For the first time, he knew what true terror was. "Please ..."
"You really ought to go out tonight," she laughed. "It would do you a world of good."
There was nothing then, except the words to some old song.
When Gaeta woke up, less than an hour after lying down, his sheets were sopping wet with perspiration. With some effort he pulled himself up from his rack and grabbed a towel.
To hell with sleep. He needed a shower and a night out. Once out of the all-too-short shower (damned water rationing was on again), he grabbed a fresh basic and the card Jameson gave him.
Even if the place was nothing more than a few guys knocking back the Chief's crappy hooch from mason jars, it was still better than nothing.
It took him a while to find "12H". The twelfth level ended in "G", which, of course, was just his luck but with some searching he found an attachment to the laundry that could have qualified as an "H" had anyone ever bothered to map it as such.
To his surprise, an out-of-uniform marine was standing there, discreetly blocking the door's almost hidden entrance. "Hey, lieutenant."
"Hey," he replied noncommittally. "What's up?"
"The usual crap." The marine stared out somewhere past Gaeta's shoulder.
It took him a minute but finally Gaeta recovered the presence of mind to pull out the card and show it to the man. "Don't suppose I can get some shirts done tonight?"
The marine looked at him carefully, then took the card and placed it in his pants pocket. "Not a problem. But you should know ..." He leaned in close. "There's no rank in here. No rank, no drugs, no trouble. What goes on in here ..."
"Stays in here. I get it."
"Then take off your perks," the marine said, referring to Gaeta's symbols of rank. "And don't talk about them, at all. That's the most important thing."
With a shrug, Gaeta pulled the small pinned insignias from his lapel and cuffs. He stuffed them in his pocket. "Am I presentable now?"
"More or less," the marine snorted. He pushed open the door behind him, just a crack. "Have fun."
"I'll try." He prepared himself for a letdown, since these private parties never lived up to his fevered imagination, but when he entered the room ...
It was astonishing.
Someone had the balls to turn a section of the Galactica into a Caprican easyspeak, complete with hundreds of tiny shimmer lights decorating the walls, intimate candle-lit tables and pillow-strewn lounges, all of it gleaned from gods knew where.
There was even an orchestra-- all right, it was little more than a motley crew of marine band rejects playing battered instruments, but the singer fronting them was good, really good, and Gaeta suddenly wished Jameson was there so he could buy him the best drink in the house.
Especially when a pretty brunette sitting by her lonesome at a nearby table gave him a smile.
He smiled back. Gods, she was cute. So young, with a sweet round face and bright eyes. The kind of girl he'd have given his right arm to frak in college, but who always ignored him in favor of the guys in the gym, overly muscled assholes flipping naked over bars, getting their laurel wreaths every other week to the roars of the entire school.
His luck must have been changing, as she wasn't ignoring him here. Gaeta took a chance and slid into the empty chair beside her, noticing the little black dress she wore. It was a bit too tight in the hips, but so what? He hadn't seen a woman in civvies for so long, she could have been wearing a sava bean sack and he would have been impressed.
Besides, half the women in the fleet were getting so thin from the lousy food, he could see their bones. Nice to see one with a little flesh left on her, at least for now.
She had a black silk flower tucked behind her ear and he laughed when she took it out and brushed him on the cheek with it. "Do you dance?" she asked, giggling.
"Sure. I'm a pretty good dancer." That was no lie either. His mother had insisted on lessons for him from an early age and like everything else, Gaeta made sure he excelled at what he was taught. "Do you want to dance?"
"Nah," she replied, laughing even harder. "I'm a shitty dancer."
"I can teach you," he replied, staring at her lips. Very soft and red, even without gloss. "It's easy. Just hold on and sway to the music."
"Is that all it is?"
He rose, holding out his hand. "That's all it is. Come on, let's try it."
To his delight, she followed him onto the crowded dance floor. There were so many people in that small room, a few he knew, but Gaeta pretended there was no one else in the world except for the girl who was clinging onto him and stepping on his feet with every other move.
"My name's Felix," he whispered, before pulling her flush against him.
She didn't protest the gesture. "Mine's Cally."
"You're very pretty, Cally," he said, resisting the urge to grab her ass. Now was definitely not the time to be a jerk. "Can I buy you a drink when this dance is over?"
"Drinks are free. Haven't you ever been here before?"
"No and no kidding? Free drinks? Why is that?"
She gave him a smile that would have lit up a Caprican nighttime. "Because drinking isn't what we come here for."
Felix blinked. Oh .... "Right."
The music went on, the players and singer still grooving hard, seemingly tireless. Strangely enough, Gaeta knew the song -- it was on one of his father's old datatapes, one he used to play over and over again on a weekend evening, singing it to his mother who only shook her head and laughed at him.
Arranging Cally into something that resembled a real dance hold, Gaeta began to sing along with it, to her ...
"Aphrodite moon, why are you blue?
Come back, come back to me soon
Let me see you comb back your precious locks,
Sweet, sweet Aphrodite moon.
Cally stared at him admiringly, as the song wound to a close. "You can really sing. You should sign up for the stage. They're looking for singers."
"Nah. I'd rather be down here, dancing with a beautiful girl," he said. "I don't get to do that very often. Never, in fact."
Her expression turned sober. "Here you do. And that's all that matters. Right?"
The song ended. She tugged him back to their table and motioned for a pair of drinks, which arrived in actual glasses, not the usual worn out mason jars the Chief of Engineers favored. She pushed one at him and raised the other in a toast. "To a good night out."
"To a wonderful night out," he corrected, before downing his drink in one smooth swallow. It was watered down ambrosia, but since it was free, he couldn't complain. As the drink wound through his gut, he grew itchy to touch her. Really touch her. "So, Cally, what is it we come here for again? Maybe you could show me?"
"I'd love to," she said, taking him by the hand and leading him to one of the darker corners in the room.
So dark, he could barely see but Gaeta trusted her even when she gently pushed him back onto one of the lounges. A part of him quailed -- frakking in public was never one of his fantasies -- but the atmosphere was so relaxed, no one seemed to care and she was so damned pretty, he could hardly complain when she unzipped his pants and took his cock into her mouth, right as the band broke into another song, this one a little more modern.
Baby, the black light is calling
The gods ain't gonna save us now
But that's all right, if you're here with me
Here with me on the bright side of the night
Gaeta bucked up and came, just as the song was finishing. Before he could pull Cally down to return the favor, a voice boomed over the main intercom.
"Condition one. All personnel to their action stations. Repeat, all personnel to their action stations."
Force of habit made Gaeta rise and quickly pulled his pants up without a word. He scrambled to get out the door, pushing his way past the others, even as they surged forward to get back to their posts. As Senior Officer of the Watch and third in command, he had to be first one out and to the bridge, no matter what.
Two minutes later, he was at his post, calling out reads from his scanner. Two Cylon raiders, one of them circling the little ships at the end of the fleet like a vulture.
It seemed like hours before the Vipers were set loose, even longer before the raiders were destroyed.
But they were, eventually, and Gaeta breathed a sigh of relief, offering a small victory smile to Col. Tigh, who didn't smile back.
"Where's your rank?" the old fellow asked, his voice sharp, nodding toward Gaeta's uniform.
Gaeta looked down. His insignias were still in his pocket. "Uh ..." Think, think, think. "I was cleaning them, sir," he stuttered. "Then the general order sounded and I forgot to put them back on." He started to haphazardly pin them onto his jacket, sticking himself in a few sensitive places in the process, one of the misguided pokes making his fingers bleed. "I won't be without them again, sir."
Tigh's eyes narrowed at him. "See that you're not. I don't care what the situation here is. We are going to keep up with protocol." Seeing the bit of blood seeping from the pad of Gaeta's thumb, he relaxed slightly. "Carry on, lieutenant."
"Yes, sir," he breathed, turning back to examine his scanner.
There was nothing there and slowly Gaeta's mind drifted back to Cally and their interrupted moment. Mentally, he made a promise to get back to her, either in the easyspeak or wherever she worked in the vast labyrinth that was /Galactica/. A blowjob was nice, but he was itching to frak her properly, to hear her scream when he made her come.
Maybe if he took a peek into the personnel database to find out more about her.
Just a little peek.
Engineering was buzzing with activity as usual.
Gaeta had thought long and hard for a good excuse to show up there unannounced. He'd never gotten a chance to see the Blackbird and wouldn't it be nice to view this miracle of human engineering up close and personal?
Not that it could compete with a Viper or even a Cylon raider for that matter, that perfect mix of biological entity and machine.
The Chief, just as Gaeta expected, was thrilled to accommodate him once he asked about the ship.
A few minutes later, the lecture was in full swing.
"If you look here, sir," Tyrol said, pointing out some bit of wiring or another, "... we have a fully automated thrust built around the engine as a whole."
Thrust, ha, Gaeta thought, glancing around the deck until he caught sight of Cally in her orange engineer's uniform, smooth brown hair held back in a sloppy ponytail, a dull smudge of grease smeared over her nose.
He smiled. She was even prettier here than in the club and how he longed to go over and talk to her.
Nothing too complicated. Just a 'hi', or 'how you doing' or even 'can I frak you right now, please?'
That, however, was impossible. He was a senior officer, third in command and she wasn't even a first ranked engineer.
Fraternizing was something Old Man Adama seriously frowned upon, especially after the disastrous liaison between the Chief and the Cylon formerly known as Sharon.
He'd be demoted for sure. Not only that, but the girl had a record -- nothing that bad, thirty days in the brig for popping a toaster in the halls. Still, it was something to consider.
The Chief's voice buzzed in his ear. Gaeta turned his attention back to the man, only to see a glare that would have blown his stupid homemade ship out of the sky had been a weapon. "It's truly beautiful," Gaeta murmured, nodding at the ship. "You should be proud."
"Yes, sir," the Chief replied frostily. "She is very pretty. And it's my job to protect her." A cold pause. "If you get my drift."
Shit ... he was busted. Gaeta pretended not to notice, but a drop of sweat rolled down the back of his neck. "Thank you for your hospitality, Chief," he said cheerily, slowly backing out of the hanger. "See you soon."
The Chief didn't reply. A few of the other engineers, sensing their boss's tension, gathered around him in a burly knot.
Ignoring them, Gaeta hurried back to the tube. Punching the button to the bridge, he noticed he was sweating profusely, his cock still aching from seeing her.
Gods, this was bullshit. He couldn't live his entire life without companionship because of some stupid military code. There had to be some real downtime, somewhere, but as his head cleared, Gaeta realized that compared to most of the other people in the fleet, he had it good. There was lots of water on /Galactica/, a well-stocked food source, clothes cleaned weekly by someone else ... even a place he could call his own, as tiny as it was.
This was the real reason no one had resigned. Who the hell wanted to be stuck in one of the overcrowded civilian ships where the scant supplies trickled down last? Soap was a luxury to the civvies and Gaeta sure as hell wasn't going to give up a plum post he'd worked for his entire life for some piece of ass ... but damn it to hells.
She was so pretty. So sweet and funny and ...
Taking up his post, Gaeta swallowed hard, as the scanner hummed blankly in front of him. Frak it, he was going to see her again. Hit the easyspeak tonight and convince her to venture out into somewhere a little more private. He could keep it quiet, he knew he could.
She could too, because he was going to give her a whole lot of perks she wouldn't be able to say 'no' to. The officers did get the best food and coffee and the most water, after all.
She wouldn't be able to resist.
"It's said that God works in mysterious ways."
The Godfrey woman was in bed with Gaeta, sliding her naked body over his, but instead of excitement, he felt an odd sense of detachment. She smelled nice though, the room was filled some strong perfume he couldn't recognize but knew he'd never forget.
What time was it anyway? It must be a dream, he chanted inwardly. It has to be a dream.
"Why is that?" His tongue felt thick, it was hard to speak. Hard to think.
"It's said that when you finally see Him, when you truly hear His Word, that's the moment you're saved." She peered softly at him, with an overwhelming look of love. "You're going to be saved."
"Saved from what?"
"From them." She kissed his neck. "From their evil ways." A pause and another kiss. "From ... yourself. God must take care of his children once they start to stray."
"I've always done what I'm told to," Gaeta said dully. "That's what I've lived to do."
"And God is pleased," she replied soothingly. "You just need remember, there is only one God. And His love is everywhere."
"Only one God," Gaeta repeated. "There is only one God."
She seemed so happy. "You are a very, very good boy. Our good boy. And you know what they say about good boys?"
"No ... what?"
She took his lips with her own, then pulled back, laughing softly."In the end, they always get to kiss the girl."
"Don't come to Engineering anymore. You almost got me in trouble."
Cally stared at Gaeta balefully, her mouth turned down sharply at the corners.
On the easyspeak's stage, the singer was wailing something discordant and dull. He'd tried to ply her good will in advance with a flower he'd gotten from Cloud Nine's greenhouses, but she wasn't impressed.
To the contrary, she was as mad as Hera on a day when Zeus didn't come home for dinner. "What the frak were you thinking?" she continued angrily. "I've got enough problems down there as it is. Things aren't good, in case you haven't noticed. I don't know what it's like on Olympus where you work, but ..."
"Things suck there too," he interjected quickly. "Things suck everywhere, okay?"
"Then stop making them suck more. There are no ranks here for a reason here, in case you haven't noticed."
"I'm very sorry," he said humbly. "If you want to report me, which is perfectly within your rights, then do it. I won't protest."
And he meant it too. Mostly.
Slowly, the look of ire faded from Cally's face. Her sly smile returned and she punched his shoulder lightly. "Shut the frak up, willya?"
He couldn't help but laugh in reply. "Shutting up, m'am."
They danced for a long time after that. She'd improved since the last time, barely stepping on Gaeta's feet, even when the singer broke into something really old, a tune that demanded more than a few complicated steps.
It was "Aphrodite Moon" again and Gaeta felt no embarrassment singing the main verse as loudly as he pleased, enjoying Cally's look of admiration as he sang to her, enjoying the scent of her sweet perfume.
"Aphrodite Moon, shine on bright
Light me and my love's way
Throughout the night
Aphrodite Moon, I won't argue with you
Shine on, shine on ...
Won't you and my love be true?"
It was a stupid frakkin' song, but suddenly he loved it, especially when Cally decided to drag him to a far, dark corner and let him hike up her skirt to somewhere above her waist.
No underwear either and a gasping Gaeta didn't hesitate, thrusting into her without preamble, thrilled to find her wet and ready. He kissed her deeply, muffling her loud moans as she bucked up against him, swallowing his cock with her willing body.
Gods, she was so hot and tight and hot again as she bit into his shoulder, hard enough to leave marks.
"Frak, frak, frak," he chanted, feeling the familiar tightening of his spine and balls. "Gods ..."
"There's only one God."
Whispered, and Gaeta's brain paused, but his body was in control by this time, his hips snapping against Cally uncontrollably. Odd, but he could feel whispers of kisses strung along the back of his neck, smell the strange perfume from the woman in his dreams.
Gaeta shook his head. "What?" he asked her breathlessly, just this close to the edge. "What did you say?"
He could see her eyes, even in the dark and oh, how they glittered. "God's will be done," she whispered. "Let yourself be saved."
He barely felt his impending orgasm, overtaken by something so much more glorious. It was an enlightenment, a release ... his very salvation ... all in one. The words from his dreams came tumbling back to him and they all clicked into place, everything making sense all at once.
Gaeta was an instrument of God, the one true God and His will could no longer be denied.
"God's love is everywhere," Cally said through grit teeth, holding his face in her hands, forcing him to look at her. "You need to obey His word."
His cock pulsed inside of her as he replied with words that were as natural as breathing. "By your command."
Such words, he'd never heard them before, but they were better than a prayer. Better than redemption itself.
Elated, he sagged against her, breathing hard, but not feeling tired in the least. It was the energy of rebirth ... Gaeta suddenly felt like he had the strength -- the will -- of a million souls.
"That's my good boy," Cally mouthed against his neck as in the back of Gaeta's head, Shelly Godfrey laughed. "My ... our ... very, very good boy. You know how to do what you're told."
Gaeta nodded happily, his eyes closed. "That's all I've ever done."
Three months later ...
Cally cried when he was taken to the airlock, convicted of crimes against the Colonies. Gulping, heaving sobs came from deep within her and Gaeta was touched, along with everyone else.
How sad it was for those who dared to mistakenly love a Cylon.
The Chief wound his arm around her shoulders in a comforting gesture, his glare ever hot. The marine who watched at the door of the easyspeak stood silently, holding onto the pole that was attached to the cuff around Gaeta's neck.
The Old Man's eyes were red, as were Col Tigh's, but for different reasons.
Gaeta wasn't sure why they were upset. He now knew the joy of eternal life. There was no death, only God's perfect will and he walked into the titanium-coated room without fear.
The room began to slowly depressurize, sealing shut along every possible open space.
Gaeta felt a little bit of song coming over him, a song from a memory that probably wasn't his own. He hummed, then sang, tapping his feet as the airless storm filled the room.
"Aphrodite moon, why are you blue?
Come back, come back to me soon
Let me see you comb back your precious locks,
Sweet, sweet Aphrodite moon.
Comments are loved. Thanks for reading!
Notes: Huge thanks to earis who gave this a readover and gave me some wonderful advice. Also to gaeta's poptart for her feedback. smooches both wildly