Exaggeration and Blank Verse
Sons of Ares
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"Violent Ares, that thing of fury..." –The Iliad

He could still hear her laughing as he fled down the hallway.

No takebacks!

He didn't want to take it back, he wanted to have said it at the right time, in the right place. No, that wasn't it either-- he wouldn't have minded saying it then, blurting it out like that, if only--

He didn't want her to laugh at him when he said it.

His face was hot, with anger and embarrassment and frustration with this whole frakked-up situation. Kara was tossing her Pyramid ball around and laughing at him and refusing to share whatever was on her mind. Roslin was off with Mother Elosha, digging through the books for words that would make this anything other than an insane suicide mission to a Cylon-occupied planet that, purely by coincidence, paralleled a myth. Who the hell knew where Zarek was, and probably that ought to worry Lee, but he wasn't in the mood to deal with the king of all egomaniacs again tonight. Who did that leave? Not-Boomer, locked up in her cell, and her crazy half-housebroken watchdog, who--

--who was not on guard duty like Lee expected.

"Lieutenant," Lee said, coming to a correct parade rest in the center of the corridor. Helo nodded at him, and Lee tilted his head to the side, raising one eyebrow expectantly. Helo was carrying a towel and a beat-up set of civvies. Probably on his way to hit the showers. "What, no salute? Did you forget everything while you were down on Caprica? You never were going to take any prizes for your brains, Helo, but the salute's a pretty simple one."

Helo's jaw tightened. "Sorry, sir." The gesture he made couldn't really be called a salute, and Lee was going to say so, but the man had something else to say. "Kara shot you down, huh? You must feel really frakking pathetic." He hesitated for a second, watching how that sank in. "Sir."

Lee forced himself to smile, pictured shoving his fist down Lt. Agathon's throat, and decided not to worry about how the source of his bad mood could possibly be that obvious. Not yet, anyway. "Yeah, well, we can't all have toasters getting down on their knees for us, Helo. Some guys are just lucky that way, I guess."

Lee and Helo used to spar, back on the half-tour they both served on Triton. He should've remembered how fast Helo could move, and maybe he wouldn't have found himself slammed up against the bulkhead, the shock of his spine meeting the metal leaving him stunned and powerless for a moment, Helo's forearm across his chest the only thing holding him up.

His first instinct was to start listing the penalties for assaulting a superior officer. Then he remembered that they were an entire Jump away from Galactica, on a runaway prison ship commanded by a terrorist, and that he himself was more of a fugitive than an officer. So he'd nagged Helo into saluting him for no reason. He didn't care to speculate why, but that thought made his chest tighten with warm satisfaction.

And that was just pleasant enough, combined with the anger and frustration and general to-hell-with-it state of mind he was in, to make his second instinct much more appealing.

He ducked his head forward, pressing his face into the curve of Helo's neck, inhaling deeply in the hollow where throat met collarbone. "You smell like Caprica," he said. "Like home." Mostly like sweat, really, but dust and maybe crushed plant life-- things Lee hadn't caught the scent of in too long-- were there as well. "And you want to go wash it all off."

Helo jerked his head away, but his arm didn't move. "Gotta get clean."

"Does Boomer like you better that way?" Lee asked, not bothering to try to take the edge off his words, staring up into Helo's face and silently daring the man to look back at him. "Did she tell you that you smell?"

"Frak you." Helo jerked back and took a step away. Lee rubbed at his chest a little and shook his head, grinning.

"I thought you only did that with Cylons. Humans aren't good enough for you, huh?"

"I'm not doing this." Helo shook his head slowly and started walking away. Lee saw how his fingers were digging into the towel, though, the shake of frustration and anger in them. The snide remarks were hitting home. And he knew, suddenly, in a jolt of pissed-off electric clarity, that they both wanted to do this, wanted to yell and shove and blow off some steam. Gods knew they'd earned it.

So he didn't stop. "Boy, she really cut your balls off, didn't she?"

Helo stopped in his tracks. "What?"

"Sharon. Boomer. Toaster-girl." He laughed out loud when Helo turned to stare at him. "You're her neutered little puppy! She's got your dick on ice back in her cell, doesn't she? A shrink would have a field day with you, Karl, I bet there's a whole syndrome just waiting to have your name on it--"

Up against the wall again, and this time Helo was gripping both of his arms up near the shoulders, his fingers digging in painfully. "Frak you, Lee!"

"Think you could?" The words slipped out faster than thought and hovered in the air like Harpies.

Helo glared at him, only an inch away, close enough that Lee imagined he could feel the rage coming off him as heat. "You don’t want to push your luck.”

Lee laughed in his face, spraying him with spit and getting another mean little thrill from the way he flinched back from it. “Try me.”

Helo stood still for a moment, quivering with anger and uncertainty, until Lee laughed at him again. Then his hands tightened around Lee’s arms, yanking him away from the wall and throwing him down to the floor. Helo stood over him like he expected Lee to stay down, but you couldn't grow up an Adama without learning how to fall. He rolled a little, absorbing the impact, and lashed out with a sharp kick, sweeping Helo's legs out from under him and knocking the taller man to the floor.

He didn't stay down either, of course, scrambling to his hands and knees and launching himself at Lee. He landed on Lee's chest and knocked the air out of him, scrambling to get his hands around Lee's neck. Lee drove his knee up into Helo's stomach, sending the man jerking back from him, and then shoved upwards, knocking Helo flat on his back on the floor and straddling his hips to pin him down. They froze for a moment, eye to eye, struggling to catch their breath. Lee rested his weight forward on his hands, holding Helo's arms to the floor. He was smaller than the lieutenant, but that meant that Helo had never had to learn to fight dirty, and Helo's more easy-going personality meant that he'd never learned to spend hours and hours in the gym burning anger out to exhaustion.

He'd never learned to use words to his advantage, either. "I think you've lost your edge, Karl," Lee sneered, settling himself a little more solidly against the man's torso. "Working for the Cylons made you lazy."

"I don't work for the Cylons," Helo said, struggling a little under Lee's weight, trying to get his arms free.

"You frakked one. You're having a baby with one, Gods only know how." His fingers were digging into Helo's arms, harder and deeper, and he didn't stop, wanting to see Helo flinch or whimper or react somehow. To do something other than glare up at him and shake his head and be such a Gods-damned lump of rock about all this. "You held a gun to my head to save her sorry chunk of programming she calls a life. I think that counts as working for them, Helo."

"She's not like the rest of them." Helo twisted under him again, trying to throw him off. "She's different."

"Oh, right, she loves you. You are so unbelievably stupid." A vague voice in the back of his mind wondered why no one had come down the corridor and found them, between the shouting and throwing each other around, but this was a prison ship, after all. Prisoners presumably knew the virtue of minding their own frakking business. "They built her. Just like you'd build a car, or a computer, or a Viper. They can build fifty thousand more, and you would probably say every one of them loved you right until they put a bullet in your head."

"You don't know what you're talking about." Exactly what the Cylon had said, exactly what Kara had said, and Lee was so sick and tired of being told that that he wanted to scream. His hands tightened on Helo's arms even more, shaking with the tension, and finally he was rewarded with a grunt of pain. Any other day he would be ashamed of the flash of satisfaction that went through him at the sound, but he'd been running and hiding and playing games with Tom Zarek's Half-Assed Rebellion And Would-Be Martyr Squad for too long. Even this illusory scrap of control was too sweet to pass up.

On a more basic and physical level, between that satisfaction and the fact that Helo's squirming was producing friction in interesting places, his body was beginning to sit up and take notice and generally remind him that he'd been living like a frakking eunuch ever since he came to Galactica. The rational thing to do would be to stop this right now and get the hell out of that hallway, to get as far away as possible from Helo and Kara and any other person until he calmed down again.

But all possibility of rationality vanished with the next words out of Helo's mouth.

"I mean, you only hate her because something that looked like her shot your dad. That wasn't her, Lee, and you've got to stop being so stubborn and see that--"

"Shut up." Lee didn't quite recognize the voice coming out of his mouth. It was too low and cold and furious to be his-- he wasn't that angry, he wasn't feeling anything at all suddenly, just a white-hot numbness and a desire to make Helo see reality if he had to beat it into his head bare-handed.

"She didn't do anything-- she saved me, and Kara, she's the only reason we got back here--"

"Shut up." He couldn't think. It wasn't conscious choice moving him, making him let go of Helo's arms and plant one hand in the center of his chest, holding him still while the other hand yanked Helo's shirt up and clear of his waistband before popping the button on his trousers.

"What the hell do you think--" Helo cut off with a gasp as Lee's hand found his cock. Apparently all that squirming had done something for Helo, too; he was already half-hard.

"One frak was all it took to get you over on their side," Lee said, curling his fingers tighter and starting to move his hand. Not quite as satisfying as bashing Helo's face in might be, but a lot easier to clean up. "Maybe that's all it'll take to bring you back." Helo stared at him, blank-faced and wild-eyed, confused and aroused and so frakking stupid. So passive. Lee jerked at him harder, suddenly determined to get a reaction, some kind of evidence that he wasn't the only one around here losing his mind. "I guess all your loyalty's in your dick, so whoever makes you come the hardest gets the prize."

Helo snarled, sitting up and knocking Lee's arm aside as he lunged at him. "You son of a bitch." Lee fell back and sideways, landing on his stomach on the floor, grunting in pain as Helo's knee landed in the center of his back and pinned him down. "You arrogant son of a--"

"Don't bring my mother into this," Lee hissed at him, looking back over his shoulder. "Your girlfriend's family killed her." Why that would startle Helo when nothing else had, Lee didn't know, but the pressure on his back eased a bit and he took advantage, rolling over to glare up at Helo from the floor.

"Looks like you could use some help, Lieutenant," he said, nodding at Helo's groin, where his trousers were flopping open and his cock was visibly straining against his shorts. "Probably haven't been getting any lately, huh? Not since you left Caprica. And now that we locked her up in a cage, you're going to have a lot of lonely nights in the rack."

"What is wrong with you?" Helo almost shouted.

"What's wrong with you?" Lee shot back. "Why aren't you angry, Helo? They tried to kill humanity, and you don't even seem to care."

"Of course I'm angry!" Helo's knee was over Lee's stomach now, and he pressed down on it again, holding Lee still.

"Good," Lee said, glaring up at him. "Prove it."

Helo blinked and drew back again.

"Make me believe it," Lee said, wild with frustration at Helo's inability to understand anything. "Take it out on me. Come on, Helo...be angry, be frakked-up, be human." Helo's calf was between Lee's thighs, and he shoved up against it, resorting to basic show and tell to get his point across since words weren't seeming to do it.

Helo's eyes widened as he got it. "You're a sick bastard, Lee."

"Yeah," Lee said, chuckling at the beauty of being called that by a man who'd impregnated a walking kitchen appliance. "Makes two of us."

"You think you're better than me?" Helo said, shifting his legs so that his lower body was pressed against Lee's. "You think you wouldn't have done the exact same thing if you were down there all alone and somebody you knew showed up? You really think you would call her a Cylon instead of just thanking the Gods she was there?"

Lee didn't want to have a conversation about hypothetical situations, but he didn't have the leverage to flip them over so he could control things. Sighing with frustration and shoving his hips up against Helo, he snapped, "I like to think I'd be bright enough to at least ask a few questions, yeah."

"And you say I'm inhuman." Helo let out a sharp, hissing breath and ground down harder. "You're cold, Lee, you're the one who's like a frakking robot."

"You're the expert." He shoved his hands up under Helo's shirt, dragging his fingernails down his torso, liking the feeling of skin giving way and the gasp of pain Helo made into his neck. His satisfaction dimmed a little when Helo bit him, but what the hell. He'd been thinking before that he wanted blood, after all.

It only lasted for a few more minutes of writhing and grinding, biting and clawing, swearing and scowling and muttering about what a stupid frakking idiot the other one was. Better than boxing, Lee thought with grim pleasure as Helo bit down on his lip and growled as he came. Better than lifting weights. Not better than flying a Viper, but maybe as close as he would ever get after taking the President on the run.

Helo rolled off of him and sat with his back against the wall, breathing hard and looking stunned now that he had a moment to think. Lee reached down to finish getting himself off. "I wasn't done yet," he said, closing his eyes and letting the final burst of pleasure rise and fall in a businesslike way. One more personal necessity taken care of. "I hope you were more considerate of your girlfriend than that. Or maybe it's all automatic, for her."

"Go to hell," Helo muttered, reaching for the long-abandoned towel and slowly getting to his feet.

Lee nodded. "I'll see you there."

Helo shook his head. "I really need that shower."

"Third door on your left," Lee said with exaggerated courtesy, gesturing down the hall. "Don't waste the water. I don't know if you heard, but there's kind of a shortage around here."

"Thanks for the tip." Helo walked down the corridor and Lee watched him go, suddenly aware of how tired and sweaty he was and slowly realizing how incredibly stupid and insane all of that had been. He stood up carefully, wincing as a twinge of pain shot up his back. He was too old for this shit.

He rested his forehead against the wall for a moment, considering his options. Go try to talk to Kara again-- no, not yet. Check in with the President-- not until he had a shower. Make sure Zarek wasn't doing anything too stupid and dangerous-- Gods, no, in his current state of mind there was no way dealing with Zarek could end in anything but disaster.

Sleep, then. He pushed away from the wall and headed toward the little bunk he'd been assigned on the Astral Queen. Barely big enough to turn a full circle in, but private. His alone. And blissfully lacking in mirrors; he didn't want to face himself tonight.

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