zorb: (Fingerpaint - BSG)
zorb ([personal profile] zorb) wrote2005-09-12 11:36 pm

Fic - BSG/SG1 - First Flight

This fic was for the [livejournal.com profile] multiverse2004 challenge.  Authors were concealed when the fics went up, but now they're posted, so I can pimp mine publicly.  W00t. ;-)

Title: First Flight
Author: [livejournal.com profile] zorb
Rating: PG-13
Crossover: BSG/SG-1 - Kara Thrace/Sam Carter
Spoilers: BSG - through currently aired for backstory only; SG-1 - through 7x08 ("Space Race")
Disclaimer: I'm just taking the sand out of the box to let it play with the other sand for a while.  I'll put it back when I'm done.
Summary: In vino veritas. Sam tells the tale of her first love - one Kara Thrace, aka Starbuck.
Notes: This site was my source for the program in which I somewhat anachronistically enrolled the girls.  This fic was my first attempt at femslash, first attempt to write in a very military world I know nothing about, and first written poker game, which I also know nothing about but have the fabulous [livejournal.com profile] ravenmb to thank for the help. 

Reviews can go either via the email form or here.  Thanks!

"So after a month of that, I finally get up the guts to approach her. And before I can say anything, she says, 'Like I told those other kids, I don't know where the high school tour groups meet. Sorry.'"

Sam couldn't help but burst out laughing, maybe from Daniel's sheepishly embarrassed expression, maybe from the wine, maybe both. Upon recovering, she gave her (hopefully) equally-soused friend what she thought was a sympathetic look. "Oh, Daniel...that's just sad."

"You're telling me," he answered ruefully, waving his wine glass for emphasis. "I had to sit at the back of the room and keep my mouth shut for the rest of the semester so that she wouldn't realize I was actually in her class, not on a college tour."

In celebration of Sam's surviving the Loop of Kon Garat (and in consolation for having lost), Daniel had suggested an evening of alcohol and rented movies. The other two SG-1 members, perhaps remembering the last such night's movie selections, had begged off, but Sam and Daniel hadn't gotten around to the films, anyway; they were too engaged in testing the limits of Daniel's regained memory, which was turning into a session of true confessions.

"All right, I've told you my sad tale. It's your turn. Who was your first love?" He placed his now-empty glass on the coffee table in front of him and poured more from the half-finished bottle of Merlot.

Sam sighed. "She was something else."

Fortunately for Daniel (and Sam's furniture), he hadn't taken too big of a first sip, and the coughing fit resolved itself with little mess. "She?" he finally managed to get out.

Sam nodded, raising an eyebrow at him.

"I just...had no idea, that's all," he said, settling back into the couch.

"Like I said, she was something else." Sam drew a leg up into the armchair with her. Her mind was rapidly spinning back in time.

"What was her name?" Daniel said quietly.

"Kara Thrace. But everyone called her Starbuck."


"Everyone calls her Starbuck."

"A call sign? You've got to be kidding me." Second Lieutenant Sam Carter snorted in disbelief.

"I swear it's true," insisted her friend and downtime buddy Karl Agathon from across the table. "They say she's the best pilot to come here in at least twenty years. Maybe the best in the entire military, or will be once she's finished up here."

Sam shook her head. "No way. I'm sure she's good and all, but come on, she's Navy. And it's way too early in the program for any of us to go getting cocky and claiming a call sign, of all things. We're not even supposed to be flying yet."

Karl grinned. "You're jealous, huh."

Sam sputtered in response. "What? No, of course not! I mean, I've never even met Thrace, much less seen her fly. We've all proven we're good enough to get here, and I doubt she has any more training or experience than the rest of us."

"Whoa there, Carter, I was just teasing. No need to get all uptight." He grinned at her, but any further comments were drowned out by the commotion at the door to the mess. Sam was hardly a short woman, but Karl had just enough of an edge on her to see over the heads craning to look through the crowd. "Speak of the devil..." he muttered. It didn't take long before Sam could see, as well.

Ensign Kara Thrace, graduate of the Naval Academy and apparently ace pilot, had just strutted – for that was definitely the word for it – into the room, surrounded by a mix of other pilots, Air Force and Navy alike, all of whom seemed to be vying for the chance to give her a high five or slap on the back in congratulations. And Thrace was basking in it, her definitely-contraband cigar resting casually between the fingers of her left hand when it wasn't between smirking lips. Whispers ran down the mess tables, soon drowned out by the chatter from the group.

"So Starbuck, how'd you go that fast without blowing out the stogie?"

"That's what, your sixth base record broken in three weeks?"

"I'll buy you drinks for a year if you tell me where you learned to fly like that."

The comments went on, but Thrace made only small remarks; Sam couldn't hear them from her location, but she could see they were all met with riotous laughter. She looked back to Karl to share her opinion of the circus show, only to find that he, too, seemed caught up in the glow of Thrace's aura.

Sam shook her head and muttered under her breath, "I'll bet she can't explain quantum theory, anyway."

Sam, along with Karl, Thrace, and the whole crowd of adoring Starbuck fanboys (and girls), were living in Florida for a year as part of the Air Force and Navy's Joint Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Program. Everyone at the program had at least certification in basic flight training, and most were graduates of some university, primarily their respective branch's institution. They were here to become official military pilots; only the best of the best made it into the program and came out with their wings.

Sam certainly hadn't come here to find herself once again embroiled in the high school dramatics of rivalries and ego competitions, but it seemed to be unavoidable in this boy's club setting – even though both sides, this time, were female. Within a week after seeing Thrace hold triumphant court in the mess hall, the two finally met officially during a late-night card game in the dorms.

Sam had just won a hand and was raking in her winnings when she heard the door to the common room open.

"Is this a private game or can I steal your money?"

If nothing else, the utterly arrogant and smug tone to the voice would have tipped Sam off as to its owner's identity. As it was, she looked up with the rest of the table to see the one they called Starbuck standing before them, her usual entourage down to only two guys who seemed less interested in the card game than they were in the stack of magazines someone had left on the coffee table (a quick glance told Sam all she needed to know about that).

Karl, who looked eager to get another game going and win back his lost riches, had already pulled another chair to the table. Sam regarded Thrace coolly. "I don't think we've met. Lt. Samantha Carter." She didn't offer her hand.

"'Ensign' Kara Thrace," the other woman replied smoothly, taking the offered chair as her throne. "You gonna deal me in or what?"

Sam quickly dealt the cards around, making sure her shuffles were textbook perfect and the cards flew directly at their targets. Years of watching her father's Air Force buddies playing poker had trained her well, but she didn't usually take this much care with it. It certainly wasn't for Thrace's benefit. "Five card draw, deuces wild. Or you could save time and empty your wallets into mine right now."

Karl looked at her in surprise, but Sam ignored him. People were so damned comfortable assuming she was good little Samantha Carter, model officer, who would never brag about her accomplishments but continue to make them anyway.

Thrace showed no response as she examined her cards.

Still smarting from the previous round, Karl started the betting low. Gambling wasn't strictly forbidden on base, but it wasn't exactly condoned, either, so betting tended to be conservative to stay under the radar. Sam's own bet was that Thrace would be a high stakes player. To her surprise, though, the woman across the table only raised the pot by five.

"What's the matter, Starbuck, nothing to play?" joked Braewood, an ROTC boy who hailed from a small dairy farm in Wisconsin.

"What's the matter, Braewood, no cows to tip?"

"The cows in Florida don't make the right sound when they hit the ground. Too swampy."

"Sure they don't. But what sound do they make when you stick your-"

"Braewood, make your bet or fold," Sam cut in. It came out more annoyed than she'd intended, but Thrace didn't do more than quirk an eyebrow.

Braewood was indeed out, but next to him, Jones bet big, and Sam matched. The round finished, and sideline chatter increased as the players called for cards.

"So Starbuck, I heard you have the Navy record for most disciplinary action against someone who still managed to graduate. Three."

"I don't keep track of the numbers." Sam really wished she wasn't sitting right across from that smirk.

"Seriously, how'd they not kick you out? You bribe someone or something?"

"Yeah, what's your secret?"

"If I told you, it wouldn't be a secret anymore, would it. One."

Sam ignored the chorus of "Ooo"s as she flipped Thrace the card. "You really should have more respect for the institution. The Air Force Academy had an extremely strict code of conduct, and you didn't put a toe out of line or you'd be packing your bags faster than you could recite the alma mater."

The background chatter silenced; the rest of the table looked between Sam and Thrace. Sam hasn't taken her eyes off her opponent, and Thrace, finally, met her back.

"Then the 'Air Force Academy,'" she finally replied with cool emphasis, "should really consider taking that stick out of their ass."

Though Thrace was the first to break the lock to examine her new card, Sam felt no sense of triumph. The murmur returned, if subdued, as she dealt three to Jones and exchanged two of her own for the eight and ten of spades.

Full house.

Sam schooled her face to remain neutral Karl's turn came up again. His gaze focused on his cards, she had to poke him to get him to place the bet – conservative. Karl never could maintain a poker face; Sam definitely had him.

"Let's have it, Starbuck," he said, probably trying to cover up his own shortcomings with a bright tone.

If Thrace noticed the slip, she didn't remark on it as she raised only modestly. "Don't even start, Braewood."

Sam, bolstered now in her confidence, impatiently sat through Jones's hemming and hawing and tossed her own in almost immediately. "That's it, let's show 'em."

Karl shook his head as he dropped a pair of fives and not much else.

Thrace deadpanned, "Well, Agathon, if we're all having a bad day, you might actually win a hand for once." She paused and took a drag on a cigar Sam hadn't noticed appearing in her hand. Just when Sam thought she'd have to prod the other woman to stop putting off the inevitable, Thrace continued.

"Unfortunately for you, I'm not having a bad day." She placed her spread hand on the table.

Royal Flush.

Jones exploded with a "Fuck me," Braewood groaned and shook his head, Karl burst out laughing, and the groupies Sam still didn't know joined in the chorus. Sam let her own hand fall, unnoticed, in front of her, silent in her defeat. Suddenly, she didn't feel like playing anymore. She shoved her chair backwards and stood up.

"I'm hitting the sack," she said to the still laughing Karl. "See you tomorrow."

The last thing she heard as she stalked out of the room was Starbuck's triumphant voice: "Hand me the deck, boys, this is my table now."

Sam spent the weekend stewing in her quarters. No, not stewing. Why would she do that? It was only a card game, after all, and it wasn't as if she'd never lost before, and in any case, the stakes hadn't been that huge.

In any case, she was more than thrilled to find herself back in a classroom come Monday morning. Here, more than anywhere else on base, she felt completely at home and confident in her abilities – equal or usually superior to the other minds in the room. It wasn't the physics of her undergraduate days or planned graduate work, but the instructors here still expected top-notch work, and Sam never failed to deliver. Even Thrace's unexpected entrance into the room didn't faze her. "Schedule swap," the ensign remarked to Captain Cuthers, the Aerospace Physiology instructor.

Cuthers, a hard-faced man whom Sam privately thought was bitter about never having advanced beyond Captain, despite being almost her father's age, barely blinked as Thrace took a seat. "Tomorrow, the first of you go in for altitude chamber training. Before I permit you that thrill, we'll spend today seeing how much has gotten through your skulls to keep you from getting yourselves killed by hypoxia – or worse. Thrace! Carter! Front and center."

Sam wouldn't have felt more than mild annoyance at being called up with Thrace if it hadn't been for the titillated murmur from the seats behind her. Someone, it seemed, had found their card game entertaining enough to send up the grapevine. As she turned to face the class, she noticed that Karl was decidedly not looking at her. Coward. Before she could catch his eye for a glare, the barrage began.

"Thrace, percentage of oxygen in the atmosphere."

"Twenty-one, sir, and seventy-eight percent nitrogen."

"Correct, though not what I asked. Answer the question only. Carter, five symptoms of hypoxia."

"Nausea, headache, hot and cold flashes, tingling in the extremities, blue nails, sir."

"Correct. Thrace, TUC at forty thousand feet."

The battery continued, back and forth. Standing at attention, Sam could only see Thrace peripherally, which was just as well, since it allowed her to concentrate on making her own answers cool and precise. It wasn't long before Sam caught a stutter in Thrace's voice; she took extra care to make sure her own subsequent answer was smooth and articulate. And then, finally:

"Thrace, head-weight of a 150 pound pilot with an eight pound skull pulling 4 Gs in April in the northern hemisphere."

"Would that be before or after Easter, sir?"

Snickers came from the class, but Cuthers's bark was music to Sam's ears. "Do you or do you not know the answer, Ensign?"

"No, sir."


"Thirty-two pounds, sir. And the time of year makes no difference when you're not on Earth."

"Correct. Back to your seats. Agathon! Marshall!"

Sam didn't do much to hold back the smile on her face, which only grew brighter when she saw the look Thrace directed her way. While Cuthers's attention was diverted, Sam gave Thrace a small wave before returning her own attention to the front.

Small victory, but she'd take them when they came.


"Sounds like you really hit it off." Daniel grinned at Sam over his glass's rim.

"Ha, ha. It only got worse from there, as we moved out of academics and into flight training. The program's supposed to be about class unity and teamwork across divisions, but if one thing was true about Starbuck, you either loved her or you hated her, and for whatever reason, the people who hated her started to flock around me."

"Sharks and Jets."

"Minus the musical numbers."

"So what happened when you didn't have class to fall back on anymore?"

"By then, the factions were established enough that we didn't need to prove ourselves to anyone except – well, ourselves. And the instructors played right into it, too; I don't think I was paired with or against anyone else more often. I don't think I was even second best in the class as far as flight ability, but whenever I went up against Starbuck, I sure acted like it. No one was as good as she was, though. She flew every bird like she was born in it."

"You were jealous."

"You bet your ass I was."


"Admit it, you're jealous."

Sam let out a harsh laugh. "Jealous? Of her? Please."

"You can't fool me, Carter. I saw the way you were watching her aerobatics today."

Sam rolled her eyes. "Maybe you're jealous, Agathon, but I have better things to do with my time. Like study." She pushed open the door to the flight room. Their usual table was unoccupied, although after her second training session of the day, Sam was thankful for any chair, no matter how uncomfortable. Supposedly, they were specially designed to maximize productivity; Sam suspected this really meant they were designed for maximum discomfort so the pilots in training would never be able to sleep in them.

She glanced around the room. "Where is she, anyway?" she whispered to Karl. "She finished her session before we did."

He shrugged as he unwrapped a lollipop and stuck it in his mouth. "Maybe she's in the head."

But if Thrace had only taken a bathroom break, it certainly was a long one. Twenty minutes later, she still hadn't made an appearance in the flight room. If this were the first time Thrace had gone AWOL, Sam might have found it in herself to be slightly concerned for her classmate. However, it wasn't, and she wasn't. "How does she get away with this stuff?" she muttered to herself.

"Hm?" Karl asked.

"Nothing." She looked down at the page she'd been reading to turn it and realized she hadn't taken in a single word.

"Jea-lous," he said in a low sing-song voice.

It was only the Major walking in the door that stopped Sam from clocking her so-called friend. She couldn't even throw a proper glare Thrace's way when she finally strolled through the door, as casual as could be, with a salute for the Major – and a smirking wink for Sam.

The worst part about it was that no one else seemed to notice the liberties Thrace got away with – or if they did, they didn't seem to care, at least not as much as Sam did. Sure, they'd split the class between them, but Sam was well aware that her crowd lacked the almost fanatical devotion of Thrace's, and she suspected most of them would've jumped at the chance to take Thrace's place. Not that she wanted that kind of attention, but if there was one thing Sam believed in, it was actions having consequences. Problem was, none of Thrace's seemed to, except for the retina-detaching stunts that were winning her accolades from even beyond the base now.

And Thrace positively ate the attention up like she expected it and knew she deserved it. Sam was thoroughly disgusted. Didn't they teach them anything about humility in Maryland? Duty? Honor? No, it was just one stunt, one perfect run, after another, and then congratulations and card games on the weekend. If Sam didn't want so badly to fly herself, she'd be counting the days until she could get the hell out of there and away from Kara Thrace. (Quitting, of course, would never be an option in the Carter family.)

It was a week later, as she was stewing over those very thoughts after hours, when Sam heard an odd sound coming from the janitor's closet she passed in the hall. Curious, she paused and backtracked a few steps, Thrace for once taking a backseat in her head.

She recognized the sound after a moment by its familiarity – someone was crying in there but trying desperately to stifle it, and from the pitch, she guessed it was a female someone. Sam wasn't usually one to barge in on people's private moments, but in this male-dominated program, she and the other women had become accustomed to relying on one another for moral support when the inevitable chauvinism reared its head.

Tentatively, she tapped on the door. The noise within silenced immediately. Sam waited a moment, then tapped again. "Okay in there?"

Again, she got only silence, but that didn't mean anything except that the woman within was aware of her presence. After a moment of indecision, she pushed open the door-

-and found Kara Thrace tucked into the far corner behind a mop bucket, curled up with her arms around her knees, hair in disarray, and face red and puffy. "Oh."

"Go away," Thrace said with a glare; her voice was smaller than Sam had ever imagined it could be.

She knew she should leave, but her feet were rooted to the floor. "I just wanted to see..."

"What, you wanted to see Starbuck lose it?" Her voice had regained some of its usual snap. "Well, here it is, you've seen it, now get the hell out."

"Look, Thrace, I was only trying to help," Sam shot back, annoyed.

"Yeah, well, you're not. Take your do-gooder self to someone who wants it."

"My – do you even know how you sound? I mean, come on, are we or are we not adults here?" She waved her hand for emphasis, and in doing so, allowed the door to fall shut behind her.

"Oh, that's rich, coming from the one who turns positively green every time she gets her ass beat at flying or cards." Thrace snorted, the red in her face coming from something besides crying now.

"Christ, not you, too. God, even my father thinks I'm jealous of you now," Sam exclaimed. Thrace didn't respond. "He called this morning actually and mentioned a hotshot Navy pilot he'd heard about down here, and did I happen to know Ensign Thrace, and could I get her to teach me a thing or two, and oh, I did know her? But we didn't get along? Well, Sammy, you'll just have to get over your jealousy and get along with her now..." Sam stopped short, finally realizing what she was venting to the last person who should hear it.

Thrace, for once, didn't have a smart remark. In fact, she was looking back at Sam with an expression Sam had never seen on her before. It looked suspiciously like genuine curiosity.

Thrace broke the contact by wiping her sleeve across her nose. "Your dad's military?"

"Um, yeah. Air Force, like me. Or the other way around, I guess." Sam shifted her weight but still couldn't make a retreat.

"Mom, too, I bet."

What was this, twenty questions? "No. She passed away when I was twelve, but she was a civilian anyway." That was two admissions in the past five minutes that she usually saved for very close friends; she hadn't even been planning to tell Karl about her phone conversation that morning.

"So was my dad. He died this morning."


"Thrace – Kara – I'm so sorry." Sam knelt down in front of her, still a safe distance away, pushing the empty bucket off to the side. "Was it- I mean-"

"Heart attack. No one saw it coming. Guess the artist's life finally caught up with him." Thrace sniffled, burying the bottom half of her face in her knees again, muffling her words.

"He was an artist?"

"Pianist, actually. Painted as a hobby, though." For the first time, Sam noticed the paint splatters on Thrace's fraying jacket.

"You must've been very close," she commented softly.

"He was the only one who supported my joining up," Thrace said, lifting her head slightly. Her large brown eyes had shifted focus, miles and years away. "I think he wanted me to be a pilot almost as badly as I did. Do," she corrected herself.

Sam's brow furrowed. "Despite the risk that comes with the job."

"Crazy, I know, but he kind of was, anyway. He just wanted me to be happy, whatever made that happen." Her voice broke on the last word and she sniffed again. "Look, Carter, you don't have to do this."

Sam shrugged and smiled. "I think I do, actually." She scooted over to lean against the wall beside Starbuck, leaving personal space between them but close enough to sense in the dark.

"And call me Sam."


"After that," Sam told Daniel, "things were different."

"Maria and Tony united the gangs?"

"Okay, that metaphor has outlived its usefulness."

"Sorry," he apologized. "But you guys became friends?"

"Pretty much. I think we caused a stir on the next day when we were actually civil to one another out of the instructors' earshot. It turned out we had things in common I'd never expected – her mom, for example, was enlisted in the Navy and finally got an official commission once they opened it to women in full. We even sort of looked alike, with the right hairstyle."

"And you were probably the smartest and most passionate women in the class," Daniel guessed.

"Well...maybe," Sam replied with a sheepish grin. "But Starbuck...she got me to do things I'd never – and I mean never – have even considered before. Like the one incident with the noodles and the – but that's beside the point."

"A point I'll remember to ask about when you're drunker."

"Oh, that was another thing she could do – drink everyone under the table. You didn't need alcohol to feel drunk around Starbuck though. I swear I've never felt more intoxicated than the day we took our first formation solo flight..."


"F-Day, Starbuck, up and at 'em," Sam crowed as she burst into Kara's dormitory room. She ducked the pillow that came whizzing at her head. "Come on, let's go while the coffee's still warm."

"I will never understand how you can be coherent at this hour," Kara mumbled as she practically fell out of bed and located her clothing by touch alone.

"Move it, I need my wingman to be fully alert today."

"Oh no, nono, I believe you're the wingman today," Kara replied, definitely awake now.

"We'll let the coin toss decide that, shall we?" Sam countered brightly. It was the day all pilots at Joint Training had looked forward to since they'd begun the flightline – their first formation solo flight, when they'd finally be let in the air with only a classmate as company. As top of the class, Starbuck had earned first flight, and Sam, not surprisingly, had been assigned to go with her.

Of course, the toss ended up in Kara's favor, but Sam really didn't mind. The whole class had turned out to watch one another's debut, and enthusiasm was high as the two of them were strapped and sealed into their planes.

"Hey Carter, check out your helo buddy down there. Think he's added something special to those suckers of his?" Kara's voice came over the radio.

"What? Oh, Karl?" Sam glanced over at her friend, who was indeed bouncing weirdly. "Who knows? And what do you mean helo buddy?"

"Come on, he's totally going on the helo track." Sam had to admit she was probably right. For one thing, Karl had been eyeing the flight room's framed shots of helicopters more often lately.

The radio crackled with a new voice: "Thrace, Carter, you have a go. Good luck."

"Thanks, sir. Follow my exhaust, Carter." And then they were revving down the runways and lifting into the skies.

It was all Sam could do to keep her friend to the scheduled itinerary of maneuvers. Kara was flying like a hawk released from captivity, throwing twists and flourishes onto her standard moves like she'd been practicing them all her life. A few months ago, Sam would've been annoyed and critical of this behavior; now, she was laughing along with her friend and joining in some of the tamer formation work. It was heady up there with blue and patchy white surrounding her, and Kara just ahead and to the side. With Starbuck beside her, Sam felt like it would be nothing to go that little bit farther and leave the atmosphere for the stars.

All too soon, they were called in to land, but the rush was still there as Sam was practically pulled out of her plane by her cheering classmates, who lifted her and Kara away from the landing strip and tossed them, as tradition dictated, into the waiting kiddie pools. The cold water did nothing to dampen Sam's spirits. She lost track of Kara in the melee, but Karl was there to give her a hand out. "Damn, Carter – I knew you were good, but I didn't know you had that in you."

"What?" she asked in confusion.

"You and Starbuck up there – it looked like one brain was flying two planes. It was seamless. How'd you guys do it?" He tossed her a small towel so she could clear her face.

"If I told you, it wouldn't be a secret anymore," she shot back as she wiped down.

Karl laughed and switched his lollipop to the other cheek. "Sure, Sam, whatever you say."

He might've said something else after that, but Sam wasn't listening as she rubbed her hair with the towel. Instead, her eyes had finally caught Kara through the crowd, being handed a towel of her own as she fired smartass replies at her own congratulatory crowd. Then Kara finally turned her head and met Sam's gaze.

They didn't break eye contact until the Major came over to bark for the next pilots to suit up.

The brass had wisely scheduled the solo flights for a Friday, and the pilots spent that night celebrating in town at the club that catered specifically to the military. The Aero was a bar cheap enough for their budgets but doing well enough not to be a total dive, though to hear Kara tell it, she'd almost be more comfortable if it were one. Sam was thankful that wasn't so as Kara led the way past the bouncers and into the noisy, smoky room. With her more compact form, she slipped through the crowd, Sam trailing in her wake.

The Aero was packed with jubilant pilots who had forgotten for the evening that they didn't yet have their wings as they strutted and flirted with the non-military patrons. Sam and Kara snickered at their classmates, preferring to start the evening on the dance floor, and cut straight to the room's center.

The music was good and the company better, and Sam felt every muscle in her body begin to relax as she eased into the beat and bumped hips with her friend in time. She couldn't hear the words of the song over the crowd, but Kara's jubilant laugh cut straight to her ears, and she laughed in return – she didn't know at what. At some point, Karl got drinks in their hands, owed from a poker game the prior week.

They moved in sync on the ground just like they had that morning in the air, pink and blue in perpetual motion, and other people in the club took notice. A close circle formed around them, spurring Kara to further exhibitionism and Sam to do her best to match her friend. Amidst the appreciative looks and cheers they were attracting from the male population, Kara caught her eye and winked, her dangling dog tags catching the light as they swung around her neck.

Sam had never felt sexier in her life.

The crowd pressed closer (when did they get new drinks?) and Sam and Kara were drawn up to one another. As their audience became distracted with their own partners, the pair's frenetic pace slowed, but Sam could now feel Kara's every rhythmic gyration against her own body, and she instinctively pressed back with her own bump and grind. Every nerve in her body was waking up as if from a long sleep and letting her know it on contact with Kara.

She shimmied her shoulders playfully; Kara laughed again and pressed back into Sam's taller form, her bare shoulders up against Sam's thin-strapped blue tank, and Sam realized that if Kara turned in place, their sweat-topped chests would be flush. But she didn't have time to pause and consider the rush from that realization, because the beat shifted and Kara was grinding her ass harder into Sam now, making Sam's labored breathing hitch for a moment before she slipped her hands to Kara's hips and pulled her friend still closer against her, the friction and pounding heat sending her blood rushing faster than light.

In that moment, something in Kara seemed to shift. Sam briefly worried that she'd pull away, but instead, Kara tilted her head back and up to capture Sam in wide, dark eyes. They were breathing in time, Sam noticed with what little part of her brain was still able to process such things, and Kara's glossy lips parted as she flicked her tongue over them. The change in angle was doing interesting things to Sam...her fingers tightened on her friend's hips of their own volition...her right hand started to slide upward over the thin layer of pink cotton between her and Kara's skin...

A familiar whoop from across the room released Sam from the spell and she jerked her hands away, stepping backward almost as quickly as Kara jumped forward. A glance, though, showed that it was only Karl at the dartboard with a group of the guys. No one seemed to be watching the two of them where they stood frozen in the center of the floor, the music and life going on around them.

Kara jerked her head towards the door, and Sam nodded, too keyed up to stop and think rationally. They were silent on the short cab ride back to the base and their dormitories. By unspoken agreement, they went straight to Kara's room. The echoing silence of the building was a sharp contrast to the club's noise, which was still ringing in Sam's ears along with the pounding of her pulse

The door closed solidly behind them; they found themselves in the center of the small room, only a few feet apart, eyes locked again as if they'd been instantly teleported from the dance club to the dorm room. Despite the space, Sam still couldn't catch her breath.

Kara finally broke the silence, clearing her throat. "So..."

Sam didn't know what to say. "Kara – I never – I mean, not that I – I don't know what I mean."

Kara stepped forward, lifting her hand to brush Sam's hair behind her ear. "You know no one's ever been able to get under me the way you do."

Sam didn't have time to process that as she tried speech again. "Do you – are – have you – "



"Shut up." And sliding her hand behind Sam's head, she pulled her down for a kiss...


Sam trailed off, her mind still caught in the sensory memories of the past. Daniel clearing his throat brought her abruptly back to her living room.

"Sorry, I drifted on you," she said.

"It's fine," he assured her in a tight voice, his long-forgotten wine glass dangling in one hand as he shifted on the couch. He blinked rapidly and wetted his lips before continuing. "I take it that was when..."

Sam nodded. "Neither of us had ever been with a woman before, though I think Kara had done more than I had. I'll spare you the details–" she paused to let him get over his coughing fit with more wine "-but suffice it to say that the rest of JSUPT were unlike anything I've experienced before or since. It wasn't all good – we were far too different for that, and we had our share of roaring fights – but Kara...she made me the person I never thought was in me to be. And I guess she saw something in me, too, worth sticking around for."

"So what happened?"

Sam sighed. "Honestly, I don't know. It was like as soon as we got our wings, the spell that brought us together was broken. I went to grad school, and she went straight to her first assignment as a flight instructor on a naval base. We wrote to each other, but our schedules never matched up. I guess we just lost contact. The last I heard, she shipped out to Iraq, right before I went, and with everything that came after that, I never found out what happened to her. Knowing Starbuck, she probably got herself spectacularly blown up in some death-defying maneuver that still accomplished her objective."

Daniel swirled his glass absently. "What would you do if you saw her again, now?" he finally asked.

"God, I don't know," Sam answered. "Part of me thinks it was a one time thing, just for that time and place and nowhere beyond."

"And the other part?"

"That's the part that would drop everything – and I mean everything, Daniel, the SGC, the military, my research – just leave it all and make it happen with her again." She smirked. "That would be after I beat all of you guys away from her, of course; I wasn't the only person she had that effect on, and if she's still alive today, I'm positive she hasn't lost her touch."

Daniel smiled. "She sounds...magnetic."

"Electric, even." Sam yawned. "I'm sorry, I've completely talked your ear off, and now you know more about me than you ever bargained for."

"Don't worry about it." He picked up their wine glasses and stood slowly, wincing. "I may have to borrow your couch for the rest of the night, though."

"You're welcome to it," Sam answered, gathering the empty bottles and following him to the kitchen. "And Daniel? Thanks for listening. You're the only one I could ever tell something like that, what with the whole..." She waved her hand vaguely, but he nodded in understanding. Jack, the consummate military mind, would probably have an aneurism at the image, and while Teal'c was the best listener she knew, she wasn't sure he'd be comfortable with that particular story. Daniel, though – Daniel was safe.

She went to sleep that night with her mind in the past, and dreamed of pink tube tops and cigar smoke.


Five days later, Sam walked into her lab, intent on tinkering with the design for a new enhanced naquadah generator, when she noticed a folded sheet of paper on her desk that hadn't been there before. It had her name on it, in Daniel's handwriting. She opened it curiously, wondering what was so secret that he couldn't tell her at lunch but could leave unsealed on her desk. The note read:

Sam –

I had the chance once to risk everything I had to follow my heart. In spite of everything that's happened since, I've never felt remorse for that decision a day in my life.

My dad used to say we only regret the things we don't do.

Carpe diem.

- Daniel

P.S. If you bring her here, I promise to behave.

Stuck to the bottom was a post-it note with two lines of text: a name and a phone number.

Sitting down before her knees could give out on her, Sam lifted the receiver with a trembling hand and dialed before she could think twice. The phone picked up on the second ring.

"Kara? It's Sam. Sam Carter."