Half of this (and the idea) is Sithkitten's!
"Well. So he's done it to you too."
Cassie raised her head from her arms. She had tear tracks running down her cheeks, and her blue eyes were reddened. Her always perfect hair was messed up badly.
"What do you want?" she said, in a voice thick with suspicion and more tears.
Athena sat down opposite her in the booth. "Nothing, really--just a little company. Misery loves it, they say... I know how it feels to get dumped by Starbuck, remember? I got it last secton."
Cassie's face crumpled and more tears began to flow. "He--he said he'd broken it off with you--sectares ago!"
Athena smiled grimly. "Didn't you ever learn? Starbuck only says what you want to hear. I knew that, and I loved him anyway--stupid me. Now I know better. He'll never change. And what's worse is he won't even regret what he's done to both of us. It's just the way he is."
"I didn't know--I really didn't know he was still seeing you, or I wouldn't have--"
"Wouldn't have what?" Athena couldn't help that last piece of anger. "Rubbed my nose in it when he was with you?"
"Wouldn't have let him be with me! I thought you were just a jealous ex. I'm really not that way, you know--I may have been a socialator in the past, but that's all behind me now. I have morals in my private life," she finished with a mix of drunken dignity and pathos.
"That's good to know. I need a drink." Athena signalled a servitor and ordered a bottle of ambrosa.
Cassie blinked. That was obviously the last thing she expected to hear, but it seemed a welcome suggestion. "May I share?"
"Certainly. You look like you could use a good drink. Maybe even more than one."
"You're right there," Cassie sniffed. "Bastard. What did he think he was doing? Of all the nerve, dating both of us at once--"
The ambrosa arrived and Athena signalled the servitor to fill two glasses. "Don't think about him any more. He's an asshole."
Cassie downed her ambrosa rapidly, and then shook her head as the potent liquid hit her empty stomach. "Asshole. Yeah. He's just an asshole, and I don't ever want to see him again."
"Absolutely," Athena agreed. Damn Starbuck, anyway. Cassie was taking this much harder than she had. Well, she'd half-way known what she was getting into; she'd known him since she was fifteen, after all. Long enough to know she was hoping for the moon when she hoped he'd change. But not long enough not to try...
Cassie poured herself another glass. "I can't believe how stupid I was."
"Didn't we just decide it was his fault?" Athena said. "I'm telling you, I've known him forever and he's just a complete bastard sometimes. He hasn't got a heart."
"It wouldn't matter," Cassie said, drinking half her glass. "It doesn't matter who it is. It's me."
Athena sorted through the pronouns with a bit of difficulty. "Cassie, that's ridiculous," she said emphatically. "How can you even say such a thing?"
"Nobody wants me," she moaned. The ambrosa was really hitting her hard. Athena could see the wet glistening of tears in her eyes.
"Cass--Cassie, that's not true, and you know it." Athena sipped at her own glass, keeping control of her voice with difficulty. Fortunately, she hadn't had as much as the blonde had.
"Yeah, sure I do." She had a long pull from her glass, and then set it down carefully--beside the end of the table. The glass fell, spilling what was left of its contents on the floor. She didn't even notice, and Athena didn't care. Her emotions were suddenly skittering wildly into inappropriate places. "Everybody wants my body, 'cause I was a socialator. But nobody wants me--nobody wants me for myself, not my professional skills."
"Cassie--" Athena looked at her hands, clutching her glass, and was surprised. They were trembling so hard the liquid inside was sloshing. She swallowed and said, "That's just not true." She sat the glass down carefully, and then slid around and wrapped an arm around the other woman, pulling her close. She meant it to be like comforting her nephew. But Cassie didn't feel like a seven-yahren-old boy. And Athena didn't feel like her aunt.
"I can't tell," Cassie moaned, resting her head against Athena's shoulder.
Dear lords, what am I supposed to do now? Athena wondered. Certainly not what she wanted to--what she'd wanted to for a long time, now. Wonder if Starbuck ever figured out how much of my anger towards his relationship with Cassie stemmed from jealousy? And not of him, either... She stroked the dishevelled blonde hair lightly, relishing the feel of the fine strands between her fingers and trying to stop there. "Cass, there are some people out there who care about more than just your body, I swear..." She trailed off, uncertain how much she should say.
"Then why can't I ever meet any of them?" That should have, by all rights, been a wail. But it was instead a barely audible whisper. Deep blue eyes looked up and met pale ones, held for an eternity, and then the whisper came again. "Even you--not even you really care about me--"
"But I do!" The words came out before she could stop them. She tangled her fingers in Cassie's hair, feeling them tremble. She hadn't meant to say that. She couldn't be sorry she had.
"Y-you... do?" Those blue eyes blinked up at her, misty with tears. "You--you're not just saying that?"
"I'm not just saying that," Athena repeated, wrapping her other arm around her and rocking her gently. Maybe she had had too much ambrosa... but she could no more stop herself from holding her than she could stop the progress of the fleet.
Cassie burrowed against her and sighed into her throat. "Do you really mean that, Athena?" she said. "Do you really?"
Gods, how I mean it, Athena realized. "Yes," she said, resting her head against Cassie's mussed blondness. "Yes, I really mean it. I've felt like that a long time now, Cassie. I really mean it."
Cassie moved her hand from Athena's shoulder to her breast. Even through the fabric of her uniform the touch set fire to her blood. She reached down and covered that little hand with her own, entwining their fingers.
"Take me home, Athena?" Cassie asked softly.
Athena looked into those deep blue eyes, still luminous with tears and muzzy with ambrosa. Was there something else there, something more real than pain and drink? She couldn't tell. She wasn't sure she cared, at the moment. One thing was certain, she couldn't leave Cassie alone, here. Someone would take advantage of her, of her pain and her loneliness. Athena hadn't felt this protective of anyone since Zac had come to her, crying with the pain of his first failure... she shut down that memory with the ease of long practice. Besides, what she felt for Cassie was no more what she'd felt for her brother than it was what she felt for her nephew. "Of course I will," she said.
Cassie swayed a little when she stood up, but as long as Athena kept an arm around her she walked just fine. Athena was glad; she wasn't all that sure she could have let go. They made their way to Cassie's quarters, and when the door slid open Cassie pulled the brunette in after her. "Don't go," she said. "Don't go..."
"You need to go to bed," Athena said, steadying her.
"Yes," Cassie agreed. "Bed. Love you, Athena. Let me--"
Athena put her hand over Cassie's mouth. Cassie immediately opened it and pulled her fingers in, sucking and licking while she reached for the fastenings of Athena's uniform. Athena withdrew her hand from Cassie's lips with great effort of will and caught at the blonde's hands with even more. "No," she said. "No, Cassie--"
That beautiful face crumpled. "You didn't mean it," she said, and tears spilled across her cheeks. "Oh, gods, of course you didn't..." She turned and fled into the sleeping room.
Very well done, Athena rebuked herself and followed. Cassie was huddled on the bed, weeping as though her heart was breaking. Crying harder than she had been earlier. Athena felt her own heart's integrity in jeopardy. She knelt on the bed, gathering Cassie into her arms, easily overcoming her resistance. "I did mean it, Cassie, love," the word slipped out without causing the lords of Kobol to strike her dead so she repeated it, "my love, my own love, Cassie, I did mean it. But you're drunk, darling, it's not right. It's not right. You may feel differently in the morning."
"In liquor lies truth," Cassie said, raising her head to look at Athena. "This is how I feel. I'll never feel differently."
"Let me show you," Cassie said earnestly. "I'm not drunk. Let me do it for you."
"Cassie, no," Athena made that as firm as she could. "Not tonight." She let go and tried to stand up.
"Don't leave me," Cassie clung to her. "If you won't love me, at least don't leave me."
The heartbreak caught at Athena like claws. She couldn't have left for anything short of a Condition Red alert. "I won't," she promised. "I won't, Cassie."
Cassie relaxed against her. "Love you, Athena," she repeated a little drowsily. "You're so strong, so brave, so beautiful... love you. Didn't want him to have you... wouldn't have taken him from you but..."
"I know, love," Athena said, rubbing her back and shoulders through her tan medical uniform. "I know. Me, too..."
"Let me love you, 'Thena."
"No," she said. "Not tonight. I promise, love, if you feel this way in the morning, I'll love you so hard you won't know what hit you. But not tonight."
Cassie sighed reluctantly but let go of her determination.
"Let's get to bed, darling," Athena said. "You're going to have a hell of a headache in the morning, if nothing else."
Cassie giggled as she pulled her tunic off and let it fall onto the floor. "No," she said, "not me. Part of my training. You'll see..." she yawned and reached for her boots. "I c'n do lots for you... if you let me."
Athena's breath was caught in her throat at the slender beauty being so casually revealed to her eyes, but she managed to say, "That's not what I want, remember, love?"
"Be a nice s'prise, then," Cassie said. "Come to bed?"
Athena undressed quickly and slid under the blankets. Cassie cuddled up next to her, murmuring, "So beau'ful, 'Thena. Morning..."
Athena lay there, wondering how stupid she was being and working very hard not to fling the covers back and at least look her fill. But eventually, lulled by the regular breathing beside her, she managed to fall asleep.
When Athena woke, she couldn't place where she was, at first. The bed was somehow wrong, and the wall that met her gaze... Cassie's! That thought was several hundred voltons' worth of energy through her nervous system. She turned over and met Cassie's worried blue eyes. How does she do that? Athena wondered as she realized that those sapphire orbs weren't even a little bloodshot. Sapphire orbs? she thought then. Oh, ick. I must be in love... She could feel a silly smile spreading across her face.
Cassie relaxed, an answering smile incandescing on that perfect face. "Remember where you are, then?" she murmured.
"Oh, yes," Athena said, drinking in the sight.
"Oh, no," Athena gave up trying to memorize her; with luck, she would have yahrens to do that. "You?"
"Just one..." Cassie smiled more demurely and let her fingers glide softly across Athena's face and then downward in a very non-demure manner. "That I let you talk me out of doing anything but sleeping last night."
Athena put her hand on top of Cassie's, feeling the power surge spike from her breast straight to the pleasure centers of her brain. She had never, never felt like that with Starbuck. Or anyone else. "Love," she said, relishing the way the simple endearment made Cassie blush from her hairline all the way down to her already rosy nipples, "you were in no shape last night to do anything but sleep."
"That was then," Cassie said, squeezing her hand gently, "and this is now. And I'm perfectly sober, and I have a vague recollection of your making a promise to me..."
"And I always keep my promises," Athena said, sitting up and pulling Cassie into her arms for a kiss. The blonde's mouth opened for her, and Athena buried one hand in her hair and wrapped the other around her, holding her close. It was a whole new sensation, someone whose shoulders fit so neatly within the length of her arm... She reached for Cassie's hand, held it in hers... such a delicate hand, no bigger than her own, with long slim fingers and a fragile wrist. Athena bent her head and kissed Cassie's palm, and then began kissing her way up that slender arm. She paused at the hollow of the elbow; Cassie's skin was soft, as soft as... she rejected any clichéd comparison. Just so soft... she licked it and smiled as Cassie made a little noise of pleasure.
Cassie reached for her, but Athena captured that wandering hand and held both of them in her own between her and her new--and final--lover. "No," she said. "Not this time." She could remember what Cassie had said the night before. "I don't want you for your skills. I want you for you, your own self. Lie back and let me show you..."
"Athena--" Cassie's eyes were luminous.
"Let me show you," she repeated, gently pushing Cassie down onto the bed. "Cassiopeia, my darling..." She kissed her, tongue gently delving into Cassie's mouth, teasing her tongue and palate. Cassie relaxed; when Athena released her hands, she slid them into the long dark hair spilling across her breasts and shoulders. Athena debated whether to go back to where she had been, or start from here; the thought of all that lovely body between mouth and elbow decided her.
When she kissed Cassie's throat, she could feel the pulse racing there. She lingered there, gentle as a whisper, not wanting to mar the beauty so willingly yielded to her. She loved seeing Cassie in her ivory or rose dresses, neck and shoulders bare, the long and beautiful lines of her throat rising to the small, delicate jaw. She lapped against Cassie's throat like a felix, drawing little panting sounds of pleasure that intoxicated her more than any ambrosa.
"I could get drunk on you," she husked against Cassie's skin. "I am drunk on you."
"'Thena," Cassie said, "gods, 'Thena..."
When no more seemed forthcoming, Athena moved down to the small, firm breast that had been tickling her own throat. It was so white, with delicate traceries of blue and a pale pink areola... it looked like fine porcelain but it was warm, and soft, except for the nipple in the center, which was hard against her tongue. Cassie moaned and arched her back as Athena took her breast into mouth, sucking on the nipple, feeling it grow even harder. She put her hand on the other, gently pinching it between her fingers. Cassie's moans grew louder as Athena played with her breasts, moving her mouth to the other one, flicking her fingertips across the wet, abandoned nipple, nibbling gently, twisting even more so.
Cassie writhed beneath her, one hand twisted in the sheet and the other gripping Athena's knee. Athena was a bit shocked at the need she'd uncovered. Had even Starbuck fallen for that 'let me do it'? Whatever else he was--and that was plenty--he was good in bed, a thorough, considerate lover--Athena gasped against Cassie's breast as it hit her: this was her Cassie was reacting to. Her Cassie needed. Her Cassie wanted.
Not just sex. Not even just love. Her.
Her schoolgirl experimentation had left her wanting more, unfulfilled and empty. Cassie was that more, and more of that more than she'd ever dreamed could exist. Cassie was real, in her hands and her mouth, yes, but in her heart and her mind as well. In her soul, already. Oh, gods, oh lords, you wouldn't offer me this if I shouldn't take it, Athena thought, and slid her fingers down across Cassie's firm, slightly rounded belly.
Cassie moaned again and arched her back, opening her legs to Athena's hand as it made its way across that unfamiliar and yet so very right soft smoothness. When she slid her fingers inside Cassie, feeling her hot and wet and so very ready, Athena's moan was as strong as Cassie's. She felt Cassie's hand in her hair, urging her head upwards for a kiss, and she went with the urge, locking their mouths together as her fingers moved inside her lover's body. When Cassie came, her hands bruisingly tight on Athena's shoulders, it was a religious experience for Athena.
As far as she was concerned, the Fleet could wander space for the next millennium. She'd found her own shining corner of the universe, and she was never, never going to leave.
Two evenings later, Athena and Cassie made their way past a group of pilots to the same corner booth they'd used before. When Athena caught sight of Starbuck, she seemed to stiffen briefly, then a wicked smile crossed her face, and the next thing, she turned and possessively adjusted Cassie's shoulder strap, kissing the shoulder she was covering. Cassie's response was instant and loving as she rubbed her cheek against Athena's, putting her hand on top of the other woman's.
The pilots immediately began speculating on Starbuck's apparent failure to hold the women, and, in fact, how they preferred women to him.
Starbuck let them laugh. Frankly, he'd stopped paying any attention to that sort of thing so many yahrens ago he wasn't sure he actually could get insulted any longer. Besides... the strongest emotion he was feeling at the moment was a sort of misty blend of envy and happiness, not the kind of thing he liked to show to most people. Hell, any people... He smiled to himself as he pulled out a fumarillo and lit it. "Now, now, children," he said, looking around the table. "Are we gossiping, or are we playing pyramid?"
"Oh, come on," protested Bojay. "Doesn't it get to you even a little bit?"
"That I've spoiled them for men?" Starbuck preened himself.
"Oh, puh-lease," said Boomer. "Let's play pyramid. I'd rather lose my money than my lunch."
General agreement seemed to be the tone. Boomer dealt and Starbuck leaned back in his chair, glancing at his cards with one eye and taking in the spectacular sight of Cassie and Athena with the other. This was some of your better work, I do believe, he thought to himself with satisfaction and blew smoke across the table. I love it when a plan comes together.
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