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[personal profile] wyrdwritere
Title: Promises

Shows: BSG

Characters:Felix Gaeta/ Gaius Baltar/Tom Zarek/others in cameo.

Pairing: Gaeta/Baltar

Spoilers: relies on knowledge of a few general points through the end of Season 2.

Rating: I strongly imply awesome homosexual interaction, and mention homophobic violence on New Caprica.

Word Count: 2349.

I wrote this story for [livejournal.com profile] millari for her birthday. [livejournal.com profile] usakeh_fics provided helpful editorial comments, and [livejournal.com profile] daybreak777 gave me timely encouragement.


It had been some time since Felix Gaeta had felt any attraction for Gaius Baltar. His… interest–he couldn’t bring himself to say ‘lust’–had waned along with his respect, both of which had withered during the first two months of settlement on New Caprica. Now, three months later, he seriously wondered what he’d ever seen in the man.

“A year ago, I was ecstatic that he was even talking to me,” he’d confessed to Dee in their last phone conversation. “Six months ago, I was excited by his speeches about the adventure of making a new home for humanity on a secluded new world. Now, I wish I had kept my mouth shut when I realized some of the ballots had been switched.”

Dee was enough of a friend not to say ‘I told you so.’

As he entered Colonial One, Gaeta dreaded what he would find. Would it be Baltar, stumbling out of the Presidential bedroom while an intern discretely dressed, or would it Baltar, already at his desk and drinking?
To his great surprise, it was neither. Instead, the President sat at his desk, looking alert without coffee in sight, and reading a document while Vice-President Zarek stood to one side and watched him do it.

“What’s happened?” Felix asked.

“It seems I have had too much success in protecting us from the Cylons,” Baltar replied, not looking up.

Zarek rolled his eyes and added: “A gang of Geminese extremists abducted two Sagittaron youths, carried them into the hills south of the settlement, painted them with the signs of Aries and Aphrodite, and stoned them to death.”

“Why in the gods names would they do that?” Felix gaped.

“Because they were akape,” Zarek explained; when Felix shook his head, he continued: “It’s a special kind of religious bond between two men. It’s about having a spiritual, loving connection derived from the gods that calls them to service, and to each other. Basically, they’re ascetics, but they’re also married to each other. It’s a uniquely Sagittaron custom, based on the myth of Romo and Rama.”

“I still don’t understand,” Felix probed. “Why did the Geminese kill them?”

“Because the victims were physically consummating their love, and the Geminese consider that an abomination,” Baltar sneered, his contempt sharpening his patrician accent.

“Tom,” he continued, not noticing Felix’s suddenly flushed expression. “How are your people responding to this atrocity?”

“First, Mr. President, they’re our people, not my people…”

“…Tom, you are an ardent Sagittaron patriot…”

“…but be that as it may,” Zarek continued, “I am from Sagittaron, and I love my people, but while I’m aware of their powerful religious culture, I don’t share it. Like you, Gaius, I’m a rationalist. I believe in liberty; if two grown men want to love each other and share their lives, they should be free to do so. What’s more, this government has an absolute duty to support that. I don’t see why the superstitions of Geminon should trump those of my world.”

“I agree completely,” Baltar declared, and despite himself, Felix was moved. Baltar was sitting fully erect in his chair for the first time Felix had ever seen, he spoke with a crisp, reasoned tone that conveyed tremendous confidence, and his gaze was clear and direct, like it had been in all those interviews Felix had DVRed in his first old life, before the Attacks.

“The matter at hand is how this government shall respond,” Baltar decided. “Obviously, we must do everything in our power to bring the killers to justice, but more important, we must ensure that this horrible crime is not repeated. Felix, arrange for a meeting with Geminese and Sagittaron leaders here in two hours, and then for a public address at noon. Call the Adamas and make sure they are both here to stand with me on the platform–and make sure Laura Roslin is up there, too. Tom, after you’ve checked in with the sheriff’s office, get the speechwriters together: we have to craft an address to deliver right away.”

Both Felix and Zarek stared for a moment in shock.

“Now, if you please, gentlemen.” Baltar did not raise his voice. “This is a crisis, and we must respond quickly and decisively.”

=-=-=-

Over the next few hours, Felix was completely alert and focused on his duties. Yet, somehow, he later couldn’t recall much of anything until he stood off to one side of the presidential podium where it stood in Colonial One’s cargo bay, with most of New Caprica’s residents crowding forward eagerly to hear Baltar’s speech.

The Old Man was there (and smiled to see Felix), along with Apollo and Helo (who’d given Felix a hug), all watching Baltar who, perfectly attired in his best striped suit and self-possession, practically glowed with his rightness to call them all back to reason.

Gripping the podium, he looked out over the crowd, reaching each of them with that effortless charisma he rarely bothered to marshal. “Deeply held religious beliefs can bring meaning and order to a existence in which, as we all sadly know, so much can be ripped away from us. When we have so little left, it becomes all the more critical to defend what is left. No doubt this was a powerful motivator for the men who committed these murders. Yet, the most fundamental of all religious tenets is that the Gods claim us all equally as their children. To take each other’s lives in the hopes of honoring them is to completely misunderstand their sacred teachings.”

The crowd had stilled, hanging on every word. Gaius continued: “The Gods call to us, first and foremost, to love one another, to care for each other, no matter how difficult that can sometimes be. If the simple fact that there are perilously few of us left is no deterrent, if the logic of our embattled circumstances cannot dictate a live and let live attitude, then look again to the impulses of piety that motivated this atrocity. Only consider this: if we truly wish to judge each other, and kill each for our perceived sins, without any compassion for, or tolerance of, the actions of others, then we abandon the faith which keeps so many of us going. And if we are going to slay other humans for their sins, where shall we stop? And how shall we differ, morally, from the Cylons? For make no mistake: our supposed sins were their excuse for the Attacks, just as the supposed sins of these two young men were the excuse to kill them.”

Gaius sighed, and the people sighed with him. “We can do better than this. We must do better than this. We are many individuals, bound together as twelve tribes, and united as one people. We come from a long line of brilliant and capable ancestors, and we have survived the most terrible catastrophe in human history. Let us not now cast aside our greatest remaining treasure in petty anger, but stand together as one people, united despite our differences, stronger because we are, all of us, unique and precious individuals, and not legions of copies of a few models.”

“Let us now turn to one another, as the liturgy would have us do, and embrace one another as a gesture of peace and love.”

Baltar then turned, and embraced Tom Zarek, the Geminese delegate, Admiral Adama, and even Laura Roslin. And people in the crowd did turn and embrace one another, and then they broke into applause and cheering all on their own. Felix had never been so moved, not when the Old Man had shared his crazy dream of finding Earth, not when Laura Roslin had taken office again after the coup, not even when they’d first found Pegasus.

And Felix wasn’t the only one. The Geminese and Sagittaron delegates actually embraced, and went on to issue a joint call to prayer. A spontaneous holiday emerged, with people sharing food and drink, and playing pyramid, and singing songs. It was the first time Felix could recall everyone coming together as a people since the Colonial Day celebration when Baltar had become Vice President.

The party lasted all day, and as the evening drew in, Zarek arranged for some Sagittaron youths to erect three Geminese prayer poles, and various community leaders shook hands again, and exchanged pledges of unity and support, and swapped toasts of ambrosia.

=-=-=-=-

Afterwards, Felix was in Colonial One, reorganizing the calendar for the following day, because the other pressing business that had been ignored today still remained for the morrow. Of late, this had been the worst part of Felix’s job, as he reviewed the wasted opportunities and disappointments of one day, and envisioned how the pattern would be repeated in the days to come. This evening, however, he felt hopeful that Baltar would
finally start to live up to his promise.

And then it happened.

“Felix, what are you doing here?” Baltar asked.

Felix looked up to see Baltar–tie in his pocket, shirt collar unbuttoned–saunter over to his desk and open his cigar box.

“Mr. President,” he stammered, “I’m just reviewing your schedule for tomorrow. We want to build on the good will you’ve built today.”

Baltar nodded, and offered Felix a cigar, and then a light. When Felix held it out to the flame, Baltar cupped Felix’s hand in his own. Felix gasped and flushed despite himself. Baltar looked Felix right in the eye, and smiled gently.

“Felix,” he said, “I know that I have been a disappointment to you these past few months. Please, don’t bother to deny it. It’s written not just on your face, but your whole body.”

He took a drag on his cigar.

“To be honest, I’ve been a disappointment to me, too. When I ran for office, I hadn’t expected the demands of office to … hurt … as much as they did. It’s been difficult for me to give this job the attention it demands, to care about petty arguments over square meters of canvas and whose office will oversee the fire inspectors, and on and on.”

“Today has been a wake-up call, Felix. Saving lives, and leading people to a peaceful new world, were enormously appealing ideas, and I’d let the loss of those ships just as I took office blind me to the opportunities to pursue them. In a strange way, I’m grateful for this new tragedy, offering me a chance to start again.”

Felix’s voice trembled. “I won’t lie to you, Gaius; it has been difficult watching you sink into yourself these past few months. Today has been enormously inspiring to me.”

Now it was Baltar’s turn to blush slightly, as he looked, really looked, at Felix for the first time. Felix’s heart truly felt as though it leapt in his chest. Neither was ever sure who made the first move, but suddenly, they had both reached out, each pulling the other into a tight embrace, lips pressed together, as if this kiss was the most important moment in their lives.

=-=-=-

Felix awoke the next morning feeling unusually groggy. It took him a moment to realize that he was lying naked in the bed in the Executive suite on Colonial One, with an equally naked Gaius lying behind him, arms wrapped about him and slightly erect cock creating a delicious tingling in the crack of Felix’s ass. Gaius’s deep, even breathing made it clear that he still slept.

Gently, Felix pulled himself free, dressed, and kissed Gaius gently on the cheek, before slipping out into the still empty main office. Felix started making coffee, singing quietly to himself. “Alone she sleeps in the shirt of man…”

“You have a lovely voice,” Gaius said from the doorway to his bedroom, as the coffee maker finished brewing. Felix blushed again as Gaius, now wearing a silk robe, crossed to him and accepted a cup. “You should wake me up this way every morning.”

“I’d like nothing…” Felix began, when the door flew open and a disheveled Tom Zarek burst in.

“Gaius, come quickly–there’s been another killing.”

After quickly dressing, Gaius and Felix rushed to the prayer poles of yesterday evening. Four Geminese youths were tied to them, throats slit. There was a note that read: “Death to Defilers.” While they stared shocked at this grisly scene, the Geminese Delegate strode up and demanded immediate justice, starting with rounding up Sagittaron malcontents, including the Vice President. Just as Baltar was beginning to cut him off, the Sagittaron Delegate appeared and shouted him down, angrily denouncing Geminon and its culture of intolerance. Felix signaled for the security detail to call for back up, but before Gaius could get both sides to calm down and listen, someone threw a rock at the Geminese Delegate. In a flash, rocks and clumps of mud were flying back and forth. Gaius got a great, black clot of earth right in the face as his guards hustled him back to Colonial One.

As the riot, which was eventually quelled by marines, spiraled out of control, Baltar looked at Felix and whispered: “This wasn’t my fault. I didn’t do anything wrong. You were there. You saw.”

“Yes, I saw, Mr. President,” Felix replied. “This isn’t your fault. You were a model leader yesterday. It just wasn’t enough. You’re going to have to dig in and try harder. Let’s just get you cleaned up.”

The mud came off the President’s face easily enough, but the gloom in his eyes didn’t. After sitting and listening to reports and recommendations for several hours, Gaius essentially dumped the whole thing in Zarek and Adama’s lap, and retired to his room, pleading a headache.

=-=-=-=-

The following morning, Baltar didn’t even emerge from his chamber, so Felix had to roust two interns from the bed and help the President, who was still stinking drunk, to dress himself.

As Felix handed Baltar a cup of coffee, he reflected on the differences from the same scene only 24 hours earlier, and swore that he’d never sing that song again.

Date: 2008-08-17 06:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] millari.livejournal.com
Oh, I totally love this! It's such a lovely folding of tenderness and tragedy, a look at what Gaius Baltar could have been on New Caprica if he hadn't already been so morally weak and so broken. I think I feel as disappointed as Felix does by the end. But that is the frakked-up joy of being a Baltar/Gaeta shipper, and you captured it really well here.

Baltar was such a surprise here - so competent and to use Felix's word, inspiring, that I have to admit that for a good part of the fic, I began to suspect that maybe he was really Head!Baltar in some corporeal form, like Shelly Godfrey, maybe. I still maintain after reading it again that if you had wanted to do that (which clearly, you didn't), there is nothing that *actually refutes* it being Head!Baltar, a fact which I think just makes the story all the more awesome.

By the end, I could see how your story ties in nicely with Baltar's arc in Season 4.0. When relieved from a sense of shame and guilt, Baltar is truly capable of greatness, as is implied in the Miniseries. Here we get a glimpse of a fleeting moment in which Baltar deals with a crisis that is completely random and organic, and not in any way his fault, and he deals with it expertly. As soon as it became a crisis that he perceived as of his own making, he fell back into the same old patterns of shame and guilt and passivity. The moment where you show Felix having to intervene to get Gaius up because he's too drunk to do it by himself serves a great double purpose (you're a very efficient/economic writer in that way): It both highlights Gaius' utter passivity, and it also parallels Felix handing Gaius coffee in the earlier, much healthier scene, which makes the second moment a total suckerpunch inversion. Gah!

I think the speech you wrote for Baltar was so good! I found it inspiring. :) I think it was even on par with the speech the BSG writers wrote for Lee Adama in the Season 3.5 finale. The genius of it was in the way it didn't denigrate the perpertrators' religious beliefs, but instead pushed them to be even more true to their faith and made it virtually impossible for the religious leaders on both sides not to buy in.

I also thought the akape concept was such a cool, layered idea, both serving as the plot device for the story, and also as a thematic device - Gaius and Felix being called together to service on New Caprica and to an emotional and sexual bond. It also introduced an underlying sense of tension to their relationship, since by coming together like that, they were in theory, engaging in a danger-filled act. (Btw, I liked that you made Zarek not give two fraks about with whom people choose to have sex. He's such a realist, that seemed spot on.)

On a purely squee level, it was so sweet to see my boys have a loving moment for once. And I actually really loved the tiny detail of them waking up entangled, as well as Felix's unabashed bliss and Gaius' obvious contentment. It's so satisfying to see them experience that, even if you know it's about to ripped away the next moment. For a second, they seem so right together. That's not an easy thing to accomplish in character; believe me, I know. ;)

And what an excellent tie-in to "Guess What's Coming to Dinner". It gives that song even *more* pathos, which frankly, I didn't think was even possible. The thought of Felix singing that song in sickbay, thinking of Gaius as he sings it, not knowing that Gaius is watching him, while Gaius himself is aware of the song's signficance?

OUCH.

Just the way my emo heart likes it.

I am so blessed to have people in my life who would go out of their way to create such lovely, tailor-made gifts for me. Thank you so much. And thank you to [livejournal.com profile] _usakeh_ and [livejournal.com profile] daybreak777 for helping make it happen. You guys all absofrakkinglutely rock.
Edited Date: 2008-08-17 06:43 pm (UTC)

Date: 2008-08-18 03:56 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] wyrdwritere.livejournal.com
It was a great pleasure to write this for you. I feel almost abashed at your praise--truly, it was no more than a matter of fitting together threads dangled by the creators of the show with a few elements you had identified as relevant to the possible sub rosa pairing.

I'm glad that you found it so satisfying.

Date: 2008-08-18 04:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] daybreak777.livejournal.com
Awww! I still enjoy this fic even though I'd seen it already. So sad at the end. Gaius almost lives up to his potential, but then no. And poor Felix, not singing again.

These are definitely M's boys, just like she writes them. How did you do that? I marvel because I can't manage writing the boys, they just escape me. I think my favorite parts of this story were Gaius sitting up straight and giving orders while Felix and Zarek gaped. And the morning after scene. So sweet. Aww, my boy Gaeta was happy for a moment. :-)

I love birthday fic. :-) Wish fulfillment. I feel this could have happened in canon just like this. I do still wonder what happened with the killings, but that's the Law & Order side of me. This was romantic and plotty and in-character. Nicely done!

Date: 2008-08-18 04:12 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] wyrdwritere.livejournal.com
Thanks for your encouragement. It was helpful to have some encouragement once the first draft was done.

I don't think the killings were ever solved, per se. I think there was a cycle of revenge for a while, and then the Occupation happened, and folks let a lot of it go. I suspect that a few final scores were settled during the craziness of the occupation and Tom Zarek's brief purge.

Date: 2008-08-18 04:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] daybreak777.livejournal.com
Yay, an epilogue! You know you've hooked your reader when they want to know more. Thanks! :-)
(deleted comment)

Date: 2008-08-19 05:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] wyrdwritere.livejournal.com
Thanks. I found your editorial notes extremely helpful, so take a bow, yourself.

Date: 2009-09-11 04:40 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] blue-crow.livejournal.com
This made me want to cry. I was so overcome with how sweet that seemed and how much I loved the idea of Gaius being a leader finally and then I just... I guess you couldn't actually give it that happy ending. The twist about the song was particularly brutal.

I think it was how hopeful it could have been that really made it so sad. I'm used to seeing 'Gaius fails on New Caprica' but nothing where he actually does anything good. D:

Date: 2009-09-11 05:09 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] wyrdwritere.livejournal.com
I'm actually proud of the insight that Gaius is quite competent when he isn't born down by his guilt, so all that I needed was a crisis that he could look at and think: 'this is completely not my fault, and utterly stupid, to boot', and the wunderkind emerged.

Sadly, he saw his shadow, and returned to his burrow for six more weeks of suck.

Date: 2009-09-11 05:40 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] safenthecity.livejournal.com
Oh, oh. Wow. I love this. I can't even...

This is just so Gaius, so Felix, so New Caprica. And the way Gaius thinks that one impassioned speech, one heartfelt gesture, is going to somehow make everything better, that rings so true, as does the way Felix believes it himself. And then when it doesn't work that way, Gaius just retreats again, not wanting to put the necessary effort into holding things together.

You have done an awesome job showing why Gaius makes an amazing public figure and a terrible politician, and how all of Felix's feelings for him are mixed up in whatever crazy mood has Gaius today. Excellent.

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