Word Count: 2,389
Summary: And he's left with no choice but to follow her. Five times Six intrigued Gaius before the attacks.
Author's Note: This is, of course, risky and even ridiculous of me to write, considering I've only watched through 3x14 and on this show, that's like ... futile to the highest degree. But sunshine_queen gave me an awesome prompt, and I love these crazy weirdos, and I couldn't resist! So, yeah. I'm not entirely sure how much this works in relation to how everything ultimately plays out, but roll with me here, homies.
Also. PLEASE DON'T SPOIL ME FOR FUTURE B-STAR HAPS IN THE COMMENTS! I am invoking the power of caps lock for security's sake. Ooh, ahh, caps lock.
You're my dirty little secret, want to keep you so
You're the only story that I've never been told
You're my dirty little secret, want to keep you so
-PJ Harvey, ‘This Is Love’
In case you were wondering: catching the attention of women isn’t hard when you just so happen to be Dr. Gaius Baltar. He’s caught – he catches – the attention of many women. Many, many, many, many women. To be absolutely precise.
Nor does it require much to catch his attention. To maintain it – well, that’s another matter.
The first time he sees her, it isn’t her beauty that strikes him, though of course she has plenty of that. It is the way she meets his eye. He can’t help but suspect, looking back at her, that she could make his life much more interesting. He’s comfortable now but boredom has been prickling about the edges of his brain; he wouldn’t be opposed to something new. Especially if said something new happens to have those legs.
“Gaius Baltar,” he says when he approaches her, and then, “Dr. Gaius Baltar, actually. But I’m sure you knew that.” If he sounds a bit bumbling, a tad smarmy – well, that’s just part of his charm. It works. He has references, if you’d like.
“Yes,” she replies. She offers nothing more. That alone is interesting.
“And you are?” he prompts.
She doesn’t answer; she keeps on walking, and he’s left with no choice but to follow her.
It is a dull, important black tie function filled with dull, important people. It’s necessary that he be here. That doesn’t mean he isn’t loathing every bloody second of it. Far be it from him to disdain science and progress and charity. He’s quite a proponent of at least two out of the three. But oh, the unendurable tedium.
He catches sight of her across the room, and suspects for a moment that he’s fallen asleep. There’s something indisputably dreamlike in the sight of her, dressed in red, exquisite beside his mediocre and imperfect fellow guests, most of whom are slave to certain evils. (A poorly fitted tux; the refusal to age gracefully. The list goes on.) She gives him the slightest of smiles. It’s all the invitation he needs. He excuses himself from his conversation and sets off after her, evading with practiced charm the Hellos and Oh, there you are, Dr. Baltars that attempt to snag him.
She waits for him out in the deserted hallway. “I thought you could use a distraction.”
“Gods, yes.” They begin to walk. The air is much cooler out here. There’s a faint breeze, a door must be open somewhere. He catches the scent of her perfume. Liberation is sweet. “Tedious self-important bastards, the lot of them.”
“You aren’t like them,” she says, very matter-of-fact. He feels a stab of pleasure at the sound of it. He has always been quite convinced of this himself. She’s hardly the first woman to tell him that he’s extraordinary, but she is the first to sound like she knows what she’s talking about. She’s swiftly become his favourite.
“Perhaps one day I’ll bring you along to one of these little shindigs,” he proposes. “As arm candy, you’d be unparalleled. Though in that case you could think about wearing flats—”
“I think it would be best if you kept me a secret,” she interrupts. “Don’t you?”
An excellent point. He would hate for anything to ruin the perfect thrill of her. Like this, he feels sometimes as if she only exists for him. Like this, walking deserted halls with their footsteps almost in time and the faint faraway sound of strings playing out a dead man’s melody. She slips her hand into his.
He knows she must have associates, friends, family. People he will never meet and doesn’t particularly care to. But she doesn’t mention them, and is so utterly untouched by them. She’s never mentioned a sister or an old boyfriend, nothing of the sort. Can he really be blamed, that he’s begun to unconsciously regard her as an answer to his every adolescent prayer, as lovely proof that the gods one day saw fit to conjure him his perfect woman out of thin air? And lo, the gods said, ye may taketh and enjoy. That sort of thing.
How, he wonders, do you do that – craft that illusion of nothingness so well. At certain moments, he feels like she lives for him, untied to anything else. Then she’ll do something – make some remark, or tilt her head a certain way – and he’ll realize how brilliant she is, how ridiculous the thought is.
He’ll go on believing it all the same, just a little. Just enough to want her more.
They take a detour into the coatroom. Had he the time and the utter lack of self-respect, he thinks he would pen sonnets to the way her breath hitches when his hands are on her, to the graceful surrender of her dress strap (so crimson against her gold smooth skin) as his fingers guide it down.
He is miserably hung over and perhaps a tad repentant, sitting here with her at the counter of this fine establishment. It’s morning and as such everyone around them insists upon being awake and noisy. There is the clang of silverware against plates, the inane top forty hit blaring from the radio. Above all, there is the human noise: conversation, endless conversation, all of it paltry and unnecessary and loud. He nurses his coffee and silently but devoutly hates them all.
She, perpetually fantastic as she is, doesn’t say anything. She has the most wonderful knack for telling just how he needs her to be at any given time. To phrase it that way makes it sound archaic, incorrect. She’s hardly a shrinking violet, there’s never been a single demure or subservient thing about her. It’s more that she’s quick enough to detect the state of things with one look – one look is all that’s needed, and she’ll have gauged him so thoroughly there’s never even a chance of misstep. It would scare him if it weren’t so convenient. He sneaks glances at her now, more regal than anyone should be whilst picking at a plate of eggs. He thinks that if she were with him every second, he’d never feel so much as the slightest inclination to stray.
Well, he amends. Maybe the slightest inclination.
In one of the booths, a child begins to cry.
“Oh, for frak’s sake,” he mutters, bringing his hands to his ((mostly) unjustly suffering) temples.
She laughs her low warm laugh. The sound is so perfectly different from the insipid cacophony around them.
“Yes, go on. Delight in my agony.”
“Poor baby,” she coos, sardonic no doubt. She reaches over to tug one of his hands away, then replaces it with hers. He relaxes beneath her touch in spite of himself.
“They shouldn’t bring those things in here,” he grumbles. “A matter of public decency.”
“Impressive. Not even ten in the morning and you’ve already outlawed children.”
“Well, I am exceptional. A genius, you know.”
“What’s next? Puppies? Kittens?”
“As long as they’re quiet, I’m willing to show mercy.”
“Gaius,” she says, perhaps fondly, and laughs again. Her voice tends to linger in the syllables of his name, as though she enjoys the taste of it. He has always liked that.
The child keeps on crying, despite frantic assurances from both mother and father that it will be all right, that there’s nothing to be troubled about, that maybe ice cream will make things better—
“Ice cream for breakfast, Greg?” the wife snaps. (She is a truly depressing sight. Pretty once, maybe, but it’s impossible to tell beneath the several layers of domestic weariness.)
“Work with me here,” the illustrious Greg mutters back.
It is, in a word, sickening. He turns to her, intending to share the opinion, but stops at the look on her face.
“Can you imagine,” she says. She’s watching them with fascination. A fascination that can be nothing but unsettling to the man who’s sleeping with her.
“No,” he says bluntly.
“Can you imagine,” she says again. He realizes that it’s not really a question, or if it is, it’s not for him. He feels for a split-second as though he isn’t even here.
He goes back to his coffee, feeling much less guilty about the brunette still asleep in his bed.
They’re out for a walk on a warm, sunny day, enjoying about as hefty a dose of nature as he’s willing to endure. They talk about work, which is a good thing: it would be far too quaint otherwise. He gets a wicked kind of pleasure from spilling these secrets, classified important things, into the clean air.
The rain catches them unawares. It doesn’t come gradually: the sky erupts, they’re drenched in seconds. He swears loudly and grabs her hand. A roof, of course, would be the ideal solution here, but the closest shelter available this far into the forest is a particularly gargantuan tree. As he pulls her beneath one of the boughs with him, she starts laughing.
It is more exceptional than it ought to be. She does laugh around him, it’s not any kind of anomaly. She has a barbed sense of humor that has always matched his.
But she doesn’t laugh like this. She is shaking with it now, her mouth open wide, beaming. She clings to the lapels of his jacket, her hair turned flatter and darker by the rain. He watches a raindrop twitch down her nose. He feels his annoyance begin to ebb away at the sight of her; he starts to laugh too, never mind that he’s got no frakking clue why they’re doing it in the first place. Her hands tremble a little as she abruptly brings them to his face. She touches his cheeks, traces his jaw and his lips.
“I’m so happy here, Gaius,” she says. Wonderingly.
It wakes something new in him. He has never thought much before about her life, being happy enough simply to invite her into his. But she is looking at him now, her eyes softer and brighter, and it takes a few seconds before he realizes that what she looks is hopeful – hopeful, and almost young. He finds he cannot think of what to say. In his state of mind, the rain nearly sings around them.
He wonders what her life was before, and what choices brought her to him.
“So happy,” she echoes, softer, with all the brave uncertainty of a child walking on new ice.
“Oh,” he says, at a loss. His immediate impulse is to ask why. That doesn’t seem like a good idea; he quashes that.
I could hurt her, he thinks for the first time. She would let me, he thinks.
He turns and kisses the palm of her hand. She makes a small, blissful sound. Then he kisses her mouth. He puts his hands on her hips and guides her forward until there’s no space left between them. She keeps her hands on his face. Her fingers are turning cold.
There is the feeling, with the tree trunk at his back and her vibrant and shaking in his arms, of being trapped. Here and now he doesn’t mind it like he will later, like he ought to. Here and now he loves even the damned rain.
They’re in his living room on the sofa, having not quite made it to the bed. They’re both still breathing hard, half-dressed, messes of people.
He’s a little drunk from earlier. A little drunk, maybe, is an understatement. He is finding it very strange, very very strange, in this moment, that he knows her so very well, inch by inch, body and bits of soul, and yet he doesn’t—
She pushes him gently off of her and stands up, stretching her arms languorously above her head. He watches her hungrily, thirstily; some watered feeling. He would like to drink her in, to drown in her.
He would like her to be his. (Ideally, without the ugly condition of making himself hers in return. There is some way of making it a fair trade, he’s sure.) Thinking this, he asks, “Are you ever going to tell me—”
He falters. He doesn’t know where to begin.
“Tell you what?” She doesn’t turn around. He relishes the sight of her bare back, the slope of her spine.
“Anything.” He laughs nervously. A very stupid sound.
“Do you want me to?”
The tone of her voice stops him dead. He realizes: he does not want her to. He wants to keep her just as she is. Certain facets of this relationship, well, they are tenuous, delicate. (Gods, the countless things he’s let her know.) He does not want anything to rattle or to break. He doesn’t want things turning difficult. He isn’t made for difficult. It’s a fact he reconciled himself to ages ago, and easily.
“No,” he decides; and, for courtesy’s sake— “not just yet.”
She turns. Her mouth has curved into a pleased smile, like she knew the answer he would give all along. From where he lies she seems so impossibly tall, such a goddess, wouldn’t it be easy to crush a mere mortal like himself to fine powder. He decides he must touch her again, for the sake of reclaiming her. He reaches out and slips a finger between the waist of her skirt and her hip, tugging her closer.
She tilts her head. “You want something?”
“Oh yes,” he says.
For a moment, he thinks she might resist him, an almost but not quite entirely unfathomable prospect. There’s a certain something darker in her eyes, is all. But she looks down and back up and he thinks he must have imagined it; a not unlikely turn of events – a given, really, with a mind like his, a very active, very dexterous, you might say unstoppable mind. She climbs back on top of him, her movements measured and, oh, excruciatingly slow.
“Gaius,” she breathes, “Gaius.”
What a prayer she makes of his name. She fits his body like it’s what she was born for.