BURN THE PIPE
BSG – K/L
BETA: The Devil Bunny and The Winter Queen. It was like a trip down the rabbit hole to Narnia.
RATING: 14+ (for sexual foreplay)
SPOILERS: Tricky! To Pegasus, I suppose, because I am basing this on the original episode that Pegasus is based on and extrapolating off of my admittedly sketchy memory. But if you have seen the promo ad for next week...you know as much as I do and can read this fic.
SUMMARY: K/L are caught where they shouldn’t be…and improvise an explanation.
DISCLAIMER: I don’t own these characters. Ron Moore doesn’t know I’m doing this and I would be honored if he asked me to cease and desist.
“This is insane.”
“It should be. It was your idea.”
“I said there might be something in the Old Man’s personal logs.” Kara’s harsh whispering blew heat and moisture close to Lee’s ear. “I didn’t suggest we burn the pipe down here to find out.” She craned her neck to check the corridor for the tenth time in as many minutes. “And your code isn’t working.”
They were pressed into the wall recess, her shoulder tight against his, and Lee was trying not to notice what her proximity was doing to his generally steady hands. Little shivers raced down his arms every time she shifted her weight. Gods, he really needed to frak her. Frak somebody, he corrected mentally before reminding himself he could punch numbers under crossfire. A shot of adrenaline with a testosterone chaser shouldn’t put him out of the fight.
Intent, as he was, on keeping his hormones in check and his work sheltered with their bodies, he didn’t look up when he said, “They’ve changed the combination but…”
“He always has a master override.”
Lee nodded tersely. Of course, she would understand. His father never took chances with computer encryption and Kara was one of the few people that knew him best. They both loved William Adama and weren’t about to stop believing in him, even if he had been acting like a maniac and was currently incarcerated in the brig of his own ship.
After another pass at the lock failed to produce results, Lee punched the heel of his palm into the door frame. Kara gave him a sidelong glance that seemed to say ‘like father, like son’ and he forced himself to ease up. Cocking his head, he favored her with a crooked little smile.
“Burn the pipe?” he asked with casual interest. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“You know exactly what it means,” Kara said, tightly. She looked over her shoulder again in case his fit of temper had attracted any attention. The corridor was still clear. It was the middle of Grey Cycle, the quietest time on a Battlestar but they were taking a huge risk. If one of Admiral Cain’s adoring goons came upon them they would be truly frakked. “When you hit the throttle so hard on take off you leave carbon tracings all over the inside of the chute.”
“That’s ‘scorching the chute.’”
“Not to the nuggets.” Impatient with his blank stare, she slow-churned the air with a hand as if speeding him along as she explained, “I like them to develop their own slang. Builds squadron identity.”
“Ah,” Lee raised an admiring brow at this show of flight instructor psychology. “That explains why Kat told me she’d heard I left you ‘stellar pipe’ last week.” He paused to wipe a palm on his pant leg before returning to the code-cracking. Smirking slightly, he added, “I thought it was some kind of sexual innuendo.”
Before Kara could react the door clicked open in response to his busy fingers. “Got it!”
He seized her elbow and dragged her with him into the room. The lights flickered into life as they entered but a flash in the doorframe caught Kara’s eye. She pulled free of Lee’s grip to investigate and, squinting, saw a tiny strip of metal near one of the hinges.
“Silent alarm,” she hissed, pointing at the strip.
Lee paused for a beat and then came to a quick decision. To Kara’s surprise, instead of turning with her to leave, he hurried toward the desktop computer. She took a reluctant step after him.
“Lee, we’ve got to go.”
“All I need is two minutes.”
“We don’t have one. Listen.”
There were already sounds of a waking vessel echoing in the walls. Rushing footsteps and confused shouts created a bouncing cacophony. Lee didn’t appear to care. He hooked the desk chair under him and toggled the computer to life. His fingers danced on the keyboard, entering passwords again.
“Then lock the door,” he commanded. “It’ll take them a little time to figure out I’ve recoded.”
Certain she’d misunderstood, Kara gaped at him for a moment but he showed no sign of relenting. As she glared, he rummaged in his jacket pocket and extracted a flat, black graphite chip. He plugged the chip into the computer’s universal port. Kara gave a small grunt of frustration. They were going straight to the brig.
Maybe they’d share a cell. That wouldn’t be so bad. If they were both busted down to crew status she could make Lee Adama her prison bitch. Have him tattooed. Happily preoccupied with imagining where she’d put her mark, Kara shouldered the door closed and sealed it with a press of her thumb. Leaning an ear to the panel, she listened. The random noise had organized into footsteps thundering closer.
“You know, we can’t help the Commander if we’re in lock-up with him?”
“They’re not going to arrest us. They don’t have a charge,” Lee said, trying to sound confident. But his tone lacked conviction, even to his own ears. Frowning, he pressed a series of buttons. The computer beeped inquiringly and then, with a bit more urging, started grinding through the file download. “It’s not like we broke in. I had the code.”
“I bet that’ll carry a lot of weight with Insane Cain. If your father is right, then she’s not playing with all three wheel men in the game. And she’s not one of your fans.”
“She likes you though.”
“Yeah, well.” One of Kara’s shoulders lifted in a modest shrug. “I am charming.”
Lee met her eye as he flashed a genuinely endearing grin. “You’re a regular Musaeus. I’ve always said.”
Predictably, Kara’s gaze dipped shyly away from the more intimate contact with his. Lee wasn’t fazed. He was starting to understand the dance, two steps forward, one and a half steps to the side and hold on until she swings into his orbit again.
“Or are you a Muse?” he asked, lightly.
She snorted a laugh. “Amused, maybe,” she replied, thankful for his return to easy-going humor. “Can you see me following you around with a harp on my hip?”
“’Yet none suspect ‘tis I who follow her, six out of six, pale light leading the bright,’” he quoted from the great poetess Musaeus’ epic work, Apollo and Artemis.
Again she turned away from him, as she’d been turning away for years, ever since that fateful day in his brother’s apartment when a playful argument over barbeque sauce, of all things, had deteriorated into a wrestling match. And resulted in cosmic revelation, a bolt from above, just like the prophets always promised. He’d pinned her, with some effort, between his body and the sink and held firm until she’d surrendered. Then, oddly unsatisfied, he’d impulsively demanded spoils, licking the spatter of sauce from her cheek. Neither of them had been prepared for the magnitude of the emotional jolt. They’d stared in silent wonder and fear until Zak’s voice called from the other room, ‘If you’ve killed one another, I’m not explaining it to Mom’ and brought them crashing back to earth.
Something, very like a battering ram, hit the wall outside Commander Adama’s quarters and Starbuck nearly twitched out of her skin. She took a hasty step back, instinctively drawing her weapon. The muffled thumps from the hall continued. Someone was trying to force the lock and it worried her that they hadn’t bothered to knock first. Spinning on her heel, she surveyed the small room, appraising gaze sweeping over the bed, desk and chairs. There was nothing helpful.
She raised her voice to carry over the thumping. “We’re trapped.”
“They aren’t going to shoot us.”
“And has it occurred to you that we don’t have any reason to be here? Except to do what you’re doing.”
“We’ll bluff our way out. You’re a very good bluffer.”
“You think they’ll let us walk out of here with that chip?”
“I’ll tell them my father sent me for something,” Lee said, returning to that reasonable attitude that was really starting to piss her off.
“A change of clothes? His personal logs?”
Lee didn’t know. He looked around for inspiration. A small leather bag caught his eye. “The shaving kit,” he proclaimed, stretching to retrieve the old-fashioned case from its perch on a bookshelf. “I can hide the chip in the lining.”
“That’s the first place they’ll search,” Kara sighed. “Haven’t you ever stolen anything?”
“A little Viper III totem,” Lee pinched his fingers together to show her the miniscule size of the fighter, “from the neighbor’s curio cabinet. When I was five.”
“And you were caught and beaten soundly?” Kara guessed.
“Worse. I confessed and got two months of the Old Man’s ‘serious disappointment’ …food turned to ashes in my mouth.”
“Sounds harsh,” Kara said, evenly, giving Lee no inkling of her true feelings. She honestly thought broken fingers might have been easier to take than the punishment he was describing. Lee's mocking words, however, made light of the ordeal.
“I became a shell of my five-year old self.”
The computer beeped a message and Lee sat forward in his chair. Kara circled the desk to his side. The download had finished. After hitting the key sequence to erase the hard drive, and assuring the computer he really meant to hit that key sequence, Lee pulled the chip free of its port and stood.
“If you’ve got a better idea,” he said, “Now’s the time to share.”
Kara’s devilish grin did nothing to reassure him. He could almost see the wheels frantically spinning behind her luminous eyes. Whatever she came up with it would probably rob him of all peace of mind. She glanced at the door just as a shower of sparks arched into the room.
Cain’s goons had given up on battering and apparently didn’t care about discovering the proper codes. They were cutting through. Lee’s hand slid toward the computer’s power switch. Kara registered the movement from the corner of her eye and adrenaline sparked an idea. It was a crazy idea but most of her best ones were.
“No, leave it on.”
“Wha--?” he began, not sure he’d heard her but as he looked up his sentence switched intent mid-syllable, “—t are you doing?”
Kara was balancing precariously on one heel while kicking off her other boot. “Leave it on,” she repeated. “And lose your gun.”
Matching words to action, she tossed her own weapon at the bed with one hand and used the other to snatch the chip from Lee’s fingers. “Gun, Captain,” she repeated, forcefully and then to Lee’s amazement she shoved his chip into the waistband of her pants, adding, “And come get your data.”
To his credit Lee didn’t argue with a good idea. It was the best excuse they could give for being in this room together. Keeping one eye on the door, he unsnapped and unbuckled, removing his holster. Before his gun hit the floor, he had slithered out of his jacket as well. Haste mussed his hair and left his clothes in disarray, exposing his midriff. Kara was already out of her shirt and tank. She threw both to the center of the room. Her dog tags jingled, catching Lee’s attention. His eye traced the swaying chain to the star-shaped medallions clinging to her damp skin.
On a whim, he lowered his mouth to her breast and caught one of the tags in his teeth. Holding to his prize like a frontier hero biting on reins, he wrapped an arm around Kara’s waist and lifted. She spilled onto the desktop, squirming against him for traction. A wild buck of her body yanked the tag from his mouth. The bronze star dropped neatly into her cleavage. Point, he thought, as she twisted to face him.
Her lips grazed his cheek and her hair teased his nose. Her strong legs encircled his hips, making him wonder who was the horse and who the rider. Once stabilized, she leaned back, slightly, and strategically braced the flat of her palm against the keyboard. A series of random characters raced across the computer screen adding confusion to the file dumping.
Lee couldn’t repress his grin. “Why, Lieutenant Thrace,” he murmured, his fingers tickling her belly as he secured the precious data chip under the strap of her thong, “A cynical man might think you’d done this sort of thing before.”
His eyes never left hers but to Kara’s disappointment he didn’t linger in the forbidden zone.
“Have you?” she growled as he withdrew his hand.
Every cell, her entire being, whimpered in protest when Lee’s hand skated to the neutral skin just below her navel. Not used to being frustrated, she seized the front of his shirt, fisting the fabric, and yanked. His breath whooshed into her mouth but he didn’t respond to the bruising intensity of her kiss. Instead he set a stiff arm against her shoulder, pushing until he held her at bay.
There was a question in her eyes and he answered it, swooping close to skim her mouth with his, just breaking the surface of sensuality. It was a first date kiss, controlled like his flying, and completely inappropriate for their carefully staged scene. Kara’s heart stuttered. She cast an apprehensive glance at the door. Any second now it was going to burst open. Lee caught her chin and gently urged her to face him. Her head turned slowly until she was once again staring into his liquid blue gaze.
“No,” he said, firmly. “We don’t hear them.”
“Lee?” she pleaded.
“It can’t be just physical…not here…not now. They’ll never believe it.”
He was right, of course. Lee Adama, always thinking, had seen the flaw in her plan. No one would believe he’d brought her here for a mindless frak on the desktop. He had an office for that. And there was no way one of them wouldn’t have gone to the screeching, sparking door. Unless…
The realization hit Kara like full weapon’s failure during a fire-fight. Coward that she was, her heart sank into an icy tangle of doubt and insecurity. The scene wouldn’t play unless they were lovers. If they couldn’t convince people they were so into each other they’d gone deaf and blind there was no way this plan would work. Committed, Kara thought and nearly scrambled off the desk, away from Lee, away from the whole concept. But they didn’t really have another plan.
The heat of his palm on her belly helped her focus. Kara forced herself to relax, to let the tight coils of anxiety in her gut melt for this man she had loved from afar for longer than she’d ever admit. If he wanted to kiss her, they’d kiss. Tomorrow, in the brig, they could argue about who, exactly, frakked up a perfectly good plan. Her fears gave a last metallic scream and vanished. A breath she hadn’t realized she was holding shuddered from her and her white-knuckled grip loosened until her fingers fanned open.
Her capitulation encouraged Lee’s stiffness to give way to a yielding intensity. Nesting an arm between her shoulder blades, he scooped her closer and let his body fit to hers, melding curves into hollows, as he toyed with the strap of her bra. Sliding the strip of cotton out of his way, he kissed the cap of her shoulder and then the bow of her neck. His lips caressed her upturned face at the crest of her cheekbone. His breath, a feathery heat on her skin, made her shiver as he took a second pass at her mouth. This time he lingered in the kiss, nipping a bit as it ended.
Breathing in synchronicity with her, Lee pulled back slightly to stare down at Kara. She was his. They both knew it was true. It was their unspoken sorrow. His brother’s betrothed, almost his sister. Lee knew he was going to hell. But then, the dotted line on that deal had been signed long ago, in barbeque sauce if not in blood. Lee spoke Kara’s name softly. She smiled, pliant and glassy-eyed as he gently brushing a few stray strands of hair from her brow, carrying them behind her ear.
The room was fading into blackness around them. Kara could no longer hear the goons banging or cutting. She rocked in the cradle of Lee’s undivided attention, enthralled by the play of emotions on his face. She watched him discovering her. He needed her, wanted her. It was amazing.
There were so many little things she’d never noticed before: the length of his lashes…the way his jaw jutted forward a little when he smiled. His thumb found her mouth, callused pad tugging at her lower lip, and she thought of the hours of battle, simulated and all too real, that had marked him. She held his gaze and honored his skill with a light kiss on the rough skin. Then taking his hand, she guided it lower, to the swell of her breast. Together they pushed the cup of her bra aside so his palm could slide over her hardened nipple.
He made a noise then, a needy groan that stabbed straight to her heart. Face lost in her hair, he held the base of her skull with one hand while the fingers of his other worked to please her. And please her, he did. She was straining under him, aching to be even closer, to have him inside. They were no longer waiting for the rattle of weapons. They were only aware of their pounding, unifying pulse and the mutual urging of murmured words.
When Lee gathered her to him for a real kiss, a true kiss, Kara committed body and soul to the embrace. She let her tongue slow-dance with his and thrilled to his eager response. His fingers raked through his hair, clawed at her skin. She was alive to the weight of his arousal against her bared abdomen.
Kara choked. Coming back to reality with a thud, her eyes opened and, as her head lolled on her relaxed neck, she hastily processed the man standing over them.
“Oh, you have got to be kidding me,” Lee rasped on a ragged breath. Air that seemed unnaturally cold washed over Kara as he broke contact with her. Targeting the nearest goon he barked authoritatively. “What?!”
Taken totally off-guard by the full force of Apollonian attitude, the unfortunate goon took a step back. Lee pressed his point. “I asked you a question, ensign. Is the ship under attack? On fire? What could you possibly want that would justify barging in here and…?”
He broke off, looking beyond the ensign to the gathered crowd of onlookers. Noting the nearest had guns leveled and a stiff-necked bearing, he changed his stance a little and tried to gentlemanly shield Kara with his body. She had slithered off of the desk and, when he stepped in front of her, crawled under it.
Reaching out from cover she hastily harvested her clothing from the floor. One of the goons shifted position to keep an eye on her and Kara modestly turned a cold shoulder toward him. The pretended shyness allowed her a quick check on the chip. It was secure and almost, she thought they might get away with this. Lee went on with his act, feigning surprise.
“What is going on?”
“This is a restricted area, Captain,” the head goon, a balding man with too much sideburn, said.
“Surely, you noticed the pass code had changed.”
Lee shook his head. “My father changes it all the time. I can usually get around it.”
“And might I remind you,” Sideburns continued, “That your father is currently under arrest?”
“You don’t have to remind me,” Lee snapped. Kara nudged his knee under the desk, prompting him to mollify his tone. “You think I’m aiding and abetting him from here?”
Before Sideburns could answer, Kara popped up out of her crouch. She juggled her boots and shirts for a second before managing to balance everything in the crook of one arm. A hand free, she twiddled her fingers at the gathered crowd. “Hi, there” she said, flashing her most charming smile. The goons didn’t smile back. Turning to the nearest, Kara lowered her voice and asked, “Do you think we could close the door…?”
The goon looked questioningly at Sideburns, who nodded tersely to the man stationed by the door. It was a victory. Starbuck reveled in her ability to throw enemies off guard. She didn’t wait for the additional privacy before launching into her spiel.
“Okay, I know what you’re going to say…this looks bad. Pilot? C.A.G.? What the hell are we thinking?” She paused for agreement but again nobody obliged her.
“The truth is this is entirely his fault,” she bobbed her chin at Lee.
“No, it isn’t,” Lee correct.
“Really?” Kara said, rolling her gaze to the ceiling as if she’d expected him to deny all.
“I wasn’t the one who objected to our usual spot.”
“The supply closet? Oh, there’s a romantic venue.” Kara shot an appealing glance at Sideburns. “Have you ever tried to fra--ah…conduct your affairs…in a supply closet?”
“So?” Sideburns summed up for them. “You brought her here?”
“She wanted a bed,” Lee said. He waved a hand. “There’s a bed.”
“And yet, you weren’t using it,” Sideburns remarked. As he spoke he circled to the side of the desk and stared down at the flashing monitor. “Why is the computer on?”
“Uh…?” Lee glanced at the machine as if seeing it for the first time.
“That’s my fault,” Kara said. She ducked in front of Lee, reaching her unencumbered arm past him. Her palm spanned several keys. Sultry eyes on Sideburns, she pressed down, creating more of the random letters. “I got a little carried away,” she confessed with a chagrinned smile.
“I’ve heard you tend to do that,” Sideburns muttered. His narrowed gaze swept Kara from head-to-toe and then targeted Lee. “I’ve heard just the opposite about you.”
“You know what they say about opposite attractions,” Lee said. His comment distracted Sideburns just long enough for Kara’s fingers to drift easily to the computer’s power button. She clicked it to off and the monitor went dark. Nobody protested.
“Alright,” Sideburns said after his long, appraising stare failed to break Lee’s placid façade. “You can both go.
“Thank you,” Lee said, with grave sincerity. Cloaking himself in formality he bowed slightly before addressing Kara in an aside. “Put your boots on, honey.”
The endearment was so out of character Kara’s mind did a slow dip and roll. “I don’t need my boots,” she said, shocked that he would want to stay one extra moment under enemy scrutiny.
“Well, we can’t go out there like this.” He plucked at her bra strap, pulling it into its proper place on her shoulder. “People will ask questions.”
Questions? Kara looked past him to Sideburns, still holding the gun on them both. He’d heard about Lee. And her. And maybe their convoluted past. This was a test. They weren’t home free, yet. Battlestars were closed systems. The Commander of the Air Group couldn’t sex up pilots in supply closets without someone, more likely everyone, talking. It would be so easy to ask around, learn she and Lee weren’t really involved.
Or would it? What would the other pilots say? There’d been the two public kisses. Assorted touching, hugging…hand-holding. Not to mention poetry quoting. And that fight in the hanger bay…a lover’s tiff? Kara thought about how she and Lee looked from the outside. Were they fooling anybody but themselves? The Bacchanal incident…or more specifically the morning after…how many people believed she’d actually mistaken his berth for hers? Especially given she hadn’t. Maybe all the crew needed to back this story up was a little suggestive push.
“Right,” she sighed, dragging the breath over her teeth. Her lip curled into a sneer so damning, Lee nearly apologized. “We wouldn’t want anyone to know you were doing me in daddy’s office. They might think you had issues.”
“Can we leave my issues out of this?”
“Apparently not,” Kara countered, dropping her boots and shoving her feet into them.
The sparkle in Lee’s eyes told her she was on the right track. Her shoulders hunched, as if she was shrugging off heartache. Lowering her chin, she set her mouth in a pout of sulky indifference. She didn’t look at him again as she stomped her way though the goons to the bedside. She slipped her shirt over her head and then, bracing each foot in turn, she savagely tightened her laces.
“We’ve gone over and over this,” Lee said, following her. “And now is not the time to…”
“Over and over,” Kara repeated, shaking her head wearily. She went on speaking in a self-admonishing mutter as if this was very familiar ground for them both. “You want me. You need me. You can’t live without me…except when we’re in public and then…I don’t know why I put up with this.”
“Kara,” Lee warned. He darted a glance at Sideburns. Meeting the man’s embarrassed and surprisingly sympathetic eye, Lee mildly inquired, “Married?”
“Married?” Kara bleated, jerking upright as if scalded. “Don’t overshoot your trap, mister.” She prodded Lee’s chest. “I’m the best pilot in this fleet and if you think I’m going to transfer to the Pegasus…or stay home darning socks…for the dubious honor of…. Of all the criminally insensitive…” She picked up her gun and jammed it into its holster. Spinning to confront Sideburns, she cocked a thumb at Lee and asked, “Is it too late to have him arrested for something?”
“Insensitive? I’m insensitive? I’m not the one who habitually refers to our lovemaking as burning the pipe.”
As soon as the words left his lips, Lee wanted to smack himself. He knew immediately he’d gone too far. Kara whirled to face him, a devastating, deal-breaking bubble of mirth lodged in her throat. Her eyes widened and then brimmed over as she fought the urge to laugh. Lee, thoughts scurrying around liked panicked mice, saw her cover her face with both hands and without much forethought swept an arm around her shoulders, pulling her shaking body to his chest to muffle any inappropriate noise.
“Okay, okay,” he murmured, awkwardly patting her hair. “Don’t cry.” Kara burbled even louder, forcing Lee to make another appeal to Sideburns. “We should go.”
To Lee’s surprise, Kara shoved him away before the head goon had a chance to reply. Her face was blotchy red and a little swollen. Her eyes had a manic shine.
“Go?” she declared. “I’m not going anywhere with you.” She knuckled her tear ducts, squeezing moisture from them, as she sniffled. “Don’t talk to me. Don’t touch me. And don’t even think about following me.”
Punctuating the rant with a final stomp of her foot, she stalked to the exit, wrenched open the door and was gone, taking the damning evidence of their operation with her. Lee, Sideburns and the rest of the goons watched her go. Biting down on the inside of his cheek, Lee concentrated on keeping a straight face. A strangely comfortable masculine solidarity settled on them all.
“Women,” someone remarked sagely into the contemplative silence
“Yep,” Sideburns agreed. Shouldering his weapon, he motioned Lee ahead of him to the hallway. The crowd dissipated as they emerged. Nobody wanted any trouble with Cain’s hit squad.
In the corridor, Sideburns slapped Lee’s back like they were old buddies coming out of a bar. “This wasn’t your finest moment, son. And I’m going to have to search you, now.” He held up a hand. “Just as a formality. You are an Adama.”
Lee spread his arms wide, mildly submitting to the search. “I’m not insensitive,” he said.
“Take her somewhere nice next time,” the goon operating the scanner equipment advised.
The one running the wand over him added, “My girlfriend left me once for six weeks but we worked it out. If she loves you, she’ll come around.”
“If,” Lee said, resignedly.
“He’s clean, sir.”
“Alright, then,” Sideburns huffed. “You can go, son. We won’t mention this, again.”
Lee squeezed a few palms to solidify the sense of camaraderie and turned to leave. This was a manly misadventure. It could have happened to anyone. He kept up the act, spine stiff, wounded dignity in place, as he walked steadily away but inside he was cheering and pumping his fist.
They’d pulled it off. He couldn’t believe it. One of their insane plans had actually worked without a hitch. One of Kara’s plans, Lee amended, which was even more amazing. His thoughts flew to his partner in crime. He could see her clearly in his mind’s eye. She would be curled up in his berth, waiting for him, toying with the chip…and laughing her oh, so frakkable ass off.
New BSG fiction
September 19th, 2005