Galen wakes up and stares at the metal over his head. Beneath him, there’s the quiet sounds of people sleeping – breathing slow and even, sheets shifting, and always, always the engines running. The clock to the left of the door reads 1300 hours, and his shift starts in twenty minutes.
There will be nine million things for him to do once he gets to the flight bay. Five or ten major jobs that he’s put off until today, and if one thing goes wrong, then there will be even fewer pilots left. Fewer familiar faces.
He breathes slowly, his hand lying on his chest, and he closes his eyes. This used to be easier.
They were going to live on Picon. Sharon liked the weather there, and Galen had family in the capital city. They visited once, stayed in Galen’s sister’s guest bedroom, on what had felt like the softest bed in the twelve colonies.
He remembers picking Sharon up, tossing her onto it, and her fingers hooking into his shirt, pulling him down. They’d kissed while laughing, and when he fell asleep, her hand had been tracing circles on his skin.
It wasn’t the first time Sharon had met his family; there had been a birthday party on Caprica for his uncle, back when they’d only been together for a little while. Sharon had been nervous, smoothing down her dress all night and standing near the bar until his brother had taken her out on the dance floor. Galen remembers the low lights, her long legs, the way she’d laughed.
“I’m happy for you,” his sister told him, when they were on Picon. Galen was watching Sharon play with his nephew, waving a plastic Viper in the air over the sandbox. He remembers the wind pulling at stray pieces of hair, teasing them out of Sharon’s pony tail, pushing them in front of her eyes, and how when she turned to him, she smiled.
“You deserve this,” his sister had said, then.
Now, Galen passes the brig with heavy steps, and wonders if maybe she wasn’t right after all.
The equipment room smells like Cally’s still; sickly sweet, thick. Galen’s doing a check on the inventory, checking the dwindling spare gimbals and the reserve ammo they’ve got left for sabotage. He feels the smooth metal casing of each bullet, staring at his own hands as they move slowly.
The hatch is half open, and he can hear the deck hands chattering, the pilots bitching and joking. Starbuck’s teasing someone, crowing and laughing like nothing has changed.
Galen half turns to see who she’s got blushing, and Helo’s standing half silhouetted in the doorway, hugging his biceps like he’s cold.
Sometimes, when Galen looks at Helo, it’s okay. Sometimes, he can see the same guy he used to see before the attack, before Sharon – before.
And sometimes, he can see those square, rough hands spread over his Sharon’s back. He can imagine Helo’s chest, broad and naked, and Sharon dragging her teeth lightly over his collarbone, the way she’d loved to do. He can see Sharon’s legs cinched tightly over his hips, Sharon’s neck thrown back, Sharon’s hair spilling over the pillows, and her dark eyes glittering beneath her lashes.
He can hear Sharon’s voice, hear her whispering Helo’s name over and over, and Galen’s arms bunch up, his fingers go white around the metal he’s holding, his breath comes short and his skin goes hot, and he can imagine what it would feel like to pull back his arm, and clock the bastard. Again and again, his hard fist to Helo’s hard chest, Helo’s back arched, pleading and Galen’s arm moving up and down, almost emotionless, almost mechanically, until Helo finally screamed, and they were done.
So he fixes his eyes on the part he’s holding, and shuts the hatch combing without looking up when Helo calls his name. It’s a lot easier that way.
Ambrosia makes him an idiot, which is why he does this every time he’s drunk. It’s not right, and he knows it. He’s known it from the first time he did this – snuck into the brig and just stood there by the glass, leaning his forehead against it and watching her.
She sleeps just like she always used to – restless, whimpering, kicking until the sheets are in a puddle at the end of the bed. Her face is slack, but her hands reach up over her stomach, cover the rounded swell of it, protective.
Sharon always had nightmares. She told him they were about the mining explosion, about the months after her parents died. She cried into his shoulder, and he smoothed his hands up and down her naked back until her breathing quieted, and she was still.
He wonders what she really dreamed about. He wonders what she’s dreaming now. He wonders if she smells the same way Sharon always did when she was sleeping, warm and sweet.
He thinks she knows he does this. Sometimes, he thinks she pretends to be asleep so he can – do whatever the frak this is. Sometimes, he doesn’t care.
Over the intercom, Dee calls Starbuck to the CIC, and beside the door, the marine shifts, restlessly. He’ll leave in a minute. Just as soon as he can.
The bathroom’s empty when Galen gets there, floors still wet from the last round of showers. He brushes his teeth and doesn’t look at himself in the mirror, just watches the water rinse away the froth of his toothpaste.
He’s tired. He’s so tired he doesn’t bother to look up when the hatch opens.
“Chief,” Helo’s voice says, and Galen closes his eyes tight. “Long time no see.”
“Don’t,” Galen tells him, shutting off the water and turning toward one of the far showers. “Just – don’t.”
Helo grabs his arm, and his fingers are warm. “Listen, this isn’t easy for either of us, but I wanted to --“
Galen turns at that, and glares at Helo’s sunken eyes, his pursed mouth. “I don’t give a frak what you want. You’ve got what you want. Leave me out of it.”
Helo’s hand tightens and he steps closer, crowding Galen against the sink, so close Galen can feel his breath, smell the bitter coffee on it. “Don’t you think for one minute that I – I’ve been where you are, okay? I frakking know, and I thought maybe we could –“
When Sharon died, her body was still warm, and her blood dripped over his pants. Her head fell back against his chest, and her mouth fell open, slack.
“You have no idea,” Galen tells him, wrenching his arm free. Helo opens his mouth to say something, and Galen leaves without showering.
When he dreams, it isn’t always about Sharon. Sometimes he dreams about his mother, or the pleasure garden on Saggitaron he’d gotten lost in when he was 14, and sometimes it’s about the first girl he ever kissed, and sometimes it’s about Helo.
Galen dreams that Helo never came back, that after Sharon died he was alone, and it was fine. Sometimes he dreams that Helo never left, that Helo helped him cradle Sharon’s skull in that hallway, making sure her head didn’t touch the ground, pushing away the feet and the legs of people who would have stepped on her, kicked her.
Sometimes Galen dreams about Helo in a Raptor with only one wing, circling farther and farther out into space, his breath making the inside of his helmet steam up as he screams without a voice. Sometimes he dreams about that happening to himself, and he wakes up cold.
And sometimes, sometimes, he dreams about biting Helo’s mouth, his neck, his fingers, his legs. Of holding him down, and leaving red hand marks all over his body. Slapping him, scratching him, punching him until Helo can’t breathe. Until Helo’s mouth falls open, and his hands go loose on Galen’s back, and then, sometimes, Galen kisses him. He kisses Helo the way he used to kiss Sharon, and even in his dreams, they’re nothing alike and he wakes up flushed and alone, and stares at the gunmetal grey above his bunk until his eyes water and it’s time to roll out of bed, and get back to work.