[Baltar/Gaeta slash] A daring rescue goes somewhat awry as Baltar takes to the high skies.
"You have to be kidding me."
Baltar's voice was outraged and Commander Adama couldn't help but notice the good doctor's ire.
"I cannot believe," Baltar sputtered furiously. "I cannot believe that you are thinking about leaving one of your officers, who happens to be one of the very few I actually like ..." Here, he threw a pointed look at Tigh. "To die on some forsaken rock while you blithely go about your ridiculous business and make not the slightest effort to hasten your efforts in his recovery."
"Dr. Baltar." Adama's rumble was soft, but dangerous. "We are not leaving Lt. Gaeta anywhere. We leave no one behind. However, this is a situation we have to carefully consider before taking any action. Tom Zarek's faction is well armed ..."
"Because of your and "Madame President's" insistence on ignoring the animals and the threat they've posed since Day One."
Adama continued without missing a beat. "Well-supplied and their intentions are unknown. This isn't a situation we can enter lightly."
Baltar's head bobbed up and down with annoyance. "Oh, how very nice of you. How very careful and neat. Your nanny would be quite proud, I'm sure. And while we are thinking and wondering and guessing, there's a young man down there who might at this very moment be strung up by his ..."
"That's enough, Doctor," Tigh barked. "The lieutenant is a professional. He'll know how to handle himself until we get there."
"That's just lovely coming from someone who taught us all about what being professional under fire looks like." The sarcasm dripped from Baltar's voice. He ignored Tigh's dark glower. "Not that I don't think Felix would do better with his eyes closed, but coming from you, oh my, that's just rich."
"Doctor!" Adama snapped. "Enough! Your concern has been taken under consideration, but the decisions to made in this retrieval operation do not need your input. Please remove yourself from the bridge."
For a second Baltar was confused. Were they actually throwing him out? He glanced at both Adama and Tigh, and quickly realized that's exactly what they were doing.
Still angry and more than a little stung, Baltar shoved his hands in his pockets and stalked away.
Those idiotic bastards, he thought furiously. First they let Zarek's goons congregate on the Astral Queen without so much as a 'by your leave', then, they send Gaeta over there to fix the blasted FTL drive without a single marine accompaniment.
He'd only there an hour or so before he and his Raptor were taken hostage, both flown to some rock-strewn hole in the system below, not to be heard from since.
Of course, they didn't realize that Gaeta was also in possession of some very, very important software. Software that could exonerate Baltar in regard to some less than savory activity involving the Cylon detector, but at the moment, that was almost besides the point.
Baltar liked Gaeta, for crying out loud. There was no one else aboard this stinking tub he could have a decent intellectual conversation with, even fewer people who could put with his nervous eccentricities with nearly the good manners ... and good humor ... Gaeta showed him.
Baltar also didn't mind the focused adoration Gaeta showered upon him day after day. It was ... comforting. The young man's crush was something Baltar enjoyed unashamedly -- it did his battered psyche and ego good.
Gaeta hinted repeatedly that he wouldn't be adverse to engaging in something a little more intimate, but Baltar refused to take advantage of the offer which also made him feel nobler than was his wont, as Gaius Baltar wasn't one to turn down sex very often.
Never, as a matter of fact.
This refusal, to Baltar anyway, was a way a proving his respect, but now with Gaeta in the hands of some of the vilest creatures in the fleet, Gaius had a bad feeling he was not only never going to sleep with his friend -- he was never going to see him again.
"Intolerable," he muttered, even as Six appeared alongside of him, smiling thinly.
"Poor Gaius," she said, running her long fingers through his unkempt hair. "Those mean boys threw away your toy."
"He's not my toy. He's a person," Baltar growled, trying to duck away from her 'hand'. "A friend, if you must know. Not that you'd know anything about friendship."
Six looked hurt. Sort of. "I know about friendship, Gaius. If it upsets you so much, why don't you go rescue him?"
Baltar blinked at her. Now he was wary, as wary as Adama. "Why? Why should I do that? I mean, how could I do that? I don't know the first thing about military missions, except how to fire a machine gun at a Cylon with my eyes squeezed shut and even then ..."
Beautiful lips set into a hard line. "Because if you don't get to that software before any of those 'gentlemen' do, your destiny is going to be staring at the bars of a brig for the rest of your natural life. Not that I'd mind. I think you look very cute when you're incarcerated."
"You're just dripping with the milk of Cylon kindness, aren't you?" Baltar tried to sound annoyed, but his heart began to pound with fear. She was right. He had to get to Gaeta before they tore him and Baltar's lone alibi apart.
"Better be quick, Gaius. From what I've heard, things aren't going very well down there."
Baltar's eyes widened. "From what you've heard? Wait a minute ..."
But it was too late for any more questions. Six had disappeared.
Trembling, Baltar took off at a quick stride toward the hanger bay. He knew a little bit about piloting -- did it as a lark while on vacation a couple of times -- so maybe, with some luck, he could commandeer something simple to the planet's surface. Yes, that was it.
Something simple. Easy and simple and gods help him, he was a dead man.
A dead man flying.
Felix Gaeta had repeated his name, rank and commission symbol so many times, it was making him dizzy just to say it.
But that's all he would say, even when punched so hard in the mouth, he felt a tooth loosen. Something warm flowed down his chin, he assumed it was blood.
A blow to the stomach followed, making him double in agony, his arms aching in their bindings. They'd tied his elbows together along with his wrists and Gaeta wondered if the burning numbness in his hands meant that they weren't getting any blood whatsoever.
Gods, that would suck ... losing his hands.
Even with Gaeta's stubbornness, the questions didn't stop. "What is the third grid point of the coordinates, you asshole?!"
The third grid point. The one from which all jumps were calculated from, in concentric patterns. If you have that, jump plotting followed a predictable blueprint. If you didn't have that, you wouldn't be able to figure out the fleets' position if you lived a million years.
Unfortunately, the only creatures who'd benefit from that tidbit of information would be the Cylons and Lt. Gaeta was certain he'd die before giving it away.
"Lt. Felix Gaeta," he repeated slowly, coughing up a bit of something he prayed was plain ol' vomit and not part of his innards. "Senior Officer of the Watch, call symbol Hermes. My enlistment number is ..."
Another punch to the gut and Gaeta sincerely wished they'd hit him on the head soon and with any luck, knock him out. This was getting tedious, not to mention excruciatingly painful. Killing him would be okay too, as he didn't expect to survive this encounter anyway, not with his facilities intact.
He just hoped his captors didn't have any interesting ideas about how you go about executing people.
They were growing impatient. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see the leader rub the handle of his firearm with increasing agitation. "This is useless. Let's just grab the hopper and go. Plug him."
"What are we going to do with a stupid hopper? They said we'd have to get the grid number before they went through with the negotiations."
"Negotiations," the other one snorted. "I love Tom, man, but he's crazy. Negotiate with the Cylons. Yeah, like that'll work."
Horrified, Gaeta swallowed hard. Tom Zarek ... in league with the Cylons. He was a dead man for sure.
"Face it, Jemini. We aren't going to get anything out of this blueshirt. I say we take the hopper and give that to the toasters. It has an FTL in it, they should be able to pull up whatever they want from it, if it's intact."
Shit. Shit, shit, shit ... Gaeta thought desperately. He's right. The Raptors were programmed to delete their hard drives if brought down, but captured without a struggle? Everything was in there, the plot points for years worth of jumps, for the entire fleet. If the Cylons got their hands on that, the war would really be over -- Cylons take all.
He had to do something and was preparing to try and somehow bring one of them down with a kick when a burst of gunfire rang out, then another, making Gaeta cringe in his bonds.
Eyes tightly closed, he waited for the searing pain followed by the darkness of death, but he felt nothing.
In fact, his heart was pounding, which was probably a good sign. A few seconds later, Gaeta felt himself lifted up and cradled in a pair of slim arms, surrounded suddenly by a familiar scent. It couldn't be and yet ...
"Felix," Gaius Baltar murmured. "Felix, speak to me. Come on, now, wake up." A gentle tap to Gaeta's cheek. "You know how I dislike space travel. Mustn't make me come all this way for nothing."
As his eyes opened, Gaeta's mouth dropped. He could hardly believe what he was seeing. His two captors dead in the dirt and ...
"Dr. Baltar?" he whispered. "Is .. is it really you?"
"In the flesh." Carefully, he propped Gaeta up and started working on undoing the knots holding his arms together. "Gods, they really did a number on you, my poor fellow. Luckily, they weren't expecting just me to come along."
"Just you? Why are you here alone? Where's the rescue crew?" Gaeta was truly confused. "Did something happen on the Galactica?"
"Besides their daily revels in utter incompetence? No, not much. They were dragging their feet about coming to get you so I decided to take matters into my own hands," Baltar explained, as the last of the bindings fell away, making Gaeta groan with relief. "As you see, I didn't do such a bad job of it all by my lonesome. Now, I hate to be a pain, but do you remember that disc of software I handed to you, right before your little misadventure? If you don't mind, I rather need it ..."
Shocked, Gaeta turned on him. "You came here without the Commander's permission or knowledge? Are you INSANE?"
Baltar blinked. This wasn't exactly the reaction he was expecting. "Well ... they were being awfully slow about things and I was worried about you."
"Oh, gods," said Gaeta, holding his head. "When Zarek tells the Cylons his men are missing ..."
"They'll come looking for them. Here. Zarek and the Cylons are going to come here in force." Gaeta rose on shaky legs. He held out a hand to Baltar and hauled him up. "We have go. We have to find the Raptor and get the frak out of here."
"Zarek? Zarek and the Cylons?" Baltar's head was spinning. "What the devil does Tom Zarek and the Cylons have in common?"
"Hatred of the Commander and the President? The same hairstylists? Who the frak knows?" Gaeta gasped, running through a series of low, dry brush, pausing only to let Baltar catch up. "We have to warn the fleet. Come on, Dr. Baltar." He grabbed Gaius' arm, forcefully dragging him along. "Move it or lose it."
"Wait a minute," Baltar panted as they raced down the dusty path. "Aren't I supposed to be rescuing /you/?"
"Of course you are," Gaeta replied solicitously, even as he nearly tore Baltar's arm out of his socket while dragging him at top speed toward the general direction of the stolen Raptor. When it came into view, Gaeta whooped with triumph. "It's the best rescue I've ever had."
They reached the doors and Gaeta worked frantically to code them open, as Baltar leaned over, hands on his knees, trying to catch his breath.
"Damn it ... wait ... there it is!" Gaeta cried, as the doors slid up and open. He shoved Baltar up the ramp and down into the navigator's chair. Hurriedly, he took the pilot's seat and started punching in the takeoff sequence, fingers flying over the console.
"Belt up," he ordered, already strapped in as Baltar fumbled to attach his seat belt. "Prepare for takeoff. Launch sequence activated. Four ... three ..."
"It's just me here, Felix," Baltar reminded him. His stomach began to churn, as the ground whirled, then dropped away. "No need to describe every bloody bump in the ride."
"Sorry," Gaeta replied. He looked out the cockpit window and saw the battered ship Baltar arrived in, some five hundred yards away from the site where he'd been held.
It was a goods hauler, sometimes called a "shopping cart", the kind of ship used to carry perishables between fleet vessels. They were infamous for being the worst, most unstable pieces of crap in the entire fleet.
Gaeta's breath audibly caught in his throat. "Did you really come here in that thing?"
Squinting, Baltar peered out the window over Gaeta's shoulder. "Oh, yes. That's my ride. Awful, isn't it? The steering stick came off mid-flight. Had quite a dizzy time while I screwed it back in."
Gaeta peered up at him adoringly. "You're amazing, you know that?"
Ah, there it is, Baltar thought, the pleasant feeling of Gaeta's expert ego-boosting washing over him. He reached down and squeezed Gaeta's shoulder, as the planet's surface fell far away.
"It was nothing, really." He paused. "I'm quite sure you did hold onto that computer disc I gave you. Because I really sort of ..."
Before he could finish, the console began to beep, as soon as they hit true space. "DRADIS contact! Cylon raiders at three ... oh ... five!" Gaeta yelled, turning pale. "Get in that seat, Dr. Baltar and start calculating our jump back to Galactica while I hold them off. Hopefully she's at the next jump site, as she's not up here anymore."
Baltar fell back and did as he was told, trying not to panic in his usual way, which consisted of screaming and running in circles. The damned Raptor wasn't big enough for that and besides, distracting Gaeta in the middle of evading raiders while making jump calculations was a rather tricky endeavor that could end badly if they both weren't paying strict attention.
Surprisingly, Gaeta was doing very well at the helm, considering the beating he'd just taken. Baltar saw the side of his face, where his lip had been cut open by a blow, the blood drying down his chin and a wave of anger came over him.
How dare that idiot Zarek and his goons side with the Cylons? Not only were they mad, they were stupid. And for beating up a very nice, very likable, fellow like his ... well, everyone's ... Felix, they were pathetic as well.
Baltar mumbled all these epitaphs to himself as Gaeta swerved the Raptor, firing at each raider pass.
"I say, Felix," Baltar called out over the noise of the guns and the grinding of the engines, as he continued to enter data for the jump. "I think that if we survive this mess we should look into implementing those suggestions you made to me a little while ago. You know, the ones about certain relaxation techniques that might be useful for us to practice together. Just you and I. Alone."
Suddenly, a raider exploded in a geyser of crimson blood and fire, as Gaeta hit it straight on. He glanced back at Baltar, his smile radiant. "I think that's an excellent idea, Gaius."
The final computation blinked on Baltar's console. "We're ready to jump. In five ..."
The Raptor's laser hit the second raider, which spiraled down toward the planet's surface in a blaze of sparks. "Ready," Gaeta called out, shutting down all unnecessary functions.
"Four ... three ... two ... jump!"
Baltar closed his eyes against the disconcerting lurch of faster than light travel. It was over in a second and when he dared to look around, he could see the long lines of the Galactica floating outside the Raptor's window.
Gaeta let out a yell of happiness before practically leaping into Baltar's arms for an embrace. "We made it!" he said, his voice thickly muffled against Baltar's shoulder. "I can't believe we made it."
It was very possible that he was crying.
Returning the hug, Baltar laughed. Real laughter and it was worth it at that moment, just holding Gaeta and being held. Being happy and safe and feeling perfectly content, while pressing his lips to Gaeta's hair. As a Viper squadron came over to greet them, Baltar decided software discs, angry commanders and Cylons could wait ...
For a few moments more anyway.
Only a few moments, though, as Commander Adama and Col. Tigh were waiting to greet them in the hanger bay upon landing. Not to mention the burly squadron of marines waiting there as well, two of whom simply picked Baltar up by the arms and carried him off to the brig, with Gaeta looking sadly after them.
For two days Baltar sat there, pouting and grumbling at the charges leveled against him. Disturbance of command, endangering the fleet and civilian personnel, piracy ... piracy for frak's sake.
The right Commander Adama had actually declared Gaius Baltar a /pirate/.
It was so absurd, he thought he'd laugh himself to tears. Except that he was near true tears at that moment, considering himself well and truly frakked, until Adama walked into the brig, flanked by a much-recovered Lt. Gaeta.
Angrily, Baltar rose from his cot and stood up straight, sticking his chin out defiantly. "Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't know I was having company today. I would have saved some of my pirate booty ... " He pointed to the empty food tray. "... for you. If you want to know where the gems are hidden, sorry, that's confidential for my fellow pirates. They get rather annoyed when you give away the treasure locations."
Adama sighed. "I've reduced the charges against you, Dr. Baltar."
"Oh no, please don't. I realized I haven't lived until charged with piracy on the high ... what would you call it? The high skies? The Cylon-filled skies? I don't know, but I love being a pirate, especially when I use my great powers of disruption and endangerment to save one of your officers."
Gaeta cleared his throat in warning. "I spoke at length with Commander Adama and we agreed that what you did, while foolhardy, was well-intentioned and gained us enough tactical knowledge to deal effectively with certain elements in our midst. So he's dropped all the charges except for endangerment."
Baltar wanted to keep sulking, but it was too exhausting. His shoulders slumped. "Thank you," he mumbled to Adama.
"Don't thank me," Adama said. "If I had my way, you'd stew in here for the remainder of the year if Mr. Gaeta hadn't vehemently argued your case to me. Day and night, I might add," he finished, glancing narrowly at Gaeta.
"It was very kind of you to listen to me, sir," Gaeta replied respectfully.
"Hummph," Adama replied. "Just see that he stays well out of trouble. For good." With a small hand motion, he ordered the marine guard to stand aside and let him leave. The marine followed him, to stand outside the thick steel door.
Moving up against the bars, Gaeta grinned at Baltar. "You'll be out in a week and then we can try our relaxation techniques." Blushing a little, Gaeta's gaze dropped to the floor. "That is, if you still want to."
"I still want to. As you know, I really need to relax."
Baltar slid up to his side of the bars and lifted Gaeta's chin with his finger. He realized he hadn't ever noticed how handsome he was, with big brown eyes and a smile that could light a room. Gently, he cupped Gaeta's face and kissed him, careful not to bang both their noses on the bars.
After a few moments, Baltar pulled away with a sigh. He hesitated. "Speaking of relaxing, you know, that disc has been worrying me something awful ..."
"It's right here," Gaeta said, reaching into his uniform jacket and pulling out a small red computer disc. He handed it to Baltar. "I didn't forget."
Oh, joy. He was definitely going to frak this boy right through the miserable cot he called a bed once they were free to do so. "You never do," Baltar said gleefully, stuffing the disc into his pants pocket. He rubbed his hands together. "I cannot wait to get out of here."
Gaeta reached through the bars and ran his thumb over Baltar's cheek. "Soon. We'll be together soon."
"Yes, soon," replied Six, who'd materialized over Baltar's shoulder, even as he leaned into Gaeta's touch. "And you must promise you'll let me watch, Gaius."
"I promise," Baltar murmured, smiling ... at both of them.
This was fun to write, hope it was fun to read. Comments are welcome and given a good home, with plenty of cookies and hot tea to go around.