Summary: That picture of Lee Adama was just too good to only use in the documentary that D'Anna Biers shot. And when Bell sold it to the Fleet-News magazine, it gave a whole new meaning to improving morale.
Fandom: Battlestar Galactica
Original story: lean to the side (lee adama: colonial pin up) by bantha_fodder, with a lot of sampling from Twenty Random Facts about the Battlestar Galactica.
Notes: Thanks so much to my beta, beatrice_otter! Also, the picture at the end is adapted from Cosmo online. It doesn't actually show anything, but I personally wouldn't look at it at work.
"You know…" Chris Bell began, tapping a pencil against his cheek speculatively.
"Let me guess," D'anna said dryly. "You have an idea."
"I have a frakking great idea," Chris said. He hit a button on the device, and the footage scrambled backwards. "There," he said, hitting the pause. "That picture. In print."
"In print?" D'anna's expression became almost predatory. "There is no way that Commander Adama would let you live if you put his son's picture in the one porn publication that manages to circulate this blasted Fleet."
"I'm not thinking porn," Chris said. "Besides, he doesn't show anything. I'm thinking a little higher class than that."
"But D'anna," Chris said, his eyes wide with fake innocence, "the President pretty much ordered good human interest stuff. And Lee Adama? Come on, he's as human interest as you get. A pilot for the military who only went in to get his four years of college paid for, but still doesn't resign? Who still serves and protects, sacrificing his own dreams for the good of the Fleet? He's good looking, he's smart, he's courageous… all of which we can showcase. Not to mention he's got Daddy issues, and those sell like hotcakes."
"Sell for what, genius?" D'anna demanded.
Chris shrugged, but his face when uncharacteristically serious. "They're selling children's toys on the black market these days," he said softly. "I know it's the stupidest thing in the world, but if I had a little more money, I could actually get Stefan a few things to play with. And maybe even a few lollypops."
D'anna sighed. "Fine. But if we get called up on the carpet about it, you get to explain it to Commander Adama and President Roslin."
"What do you think?" John Sowell, reporter for the News-Review, looked up at Tara Newell, editor-in-chief. She eyed at his handiwork critically.
"I think you can expand this section here, and cut this part," she said, gesturing with her pencil. "I want you to run it by Smithwells, too."
"John. We're not putting out many color issues, and what we do put out has to be exactly right, okay? We only have so much space, and we need to be sure that everything that goes into this issue merits it. And this story… it's meant to put a human face on the military. Just like that documentary did."
She smiled wolfishly. "It's a great picture, though."
The black background was certainly more striking than the bunks, everyone had to admit that. It really highlighted the picture's subject. Ed Smithwells looked at the image on his screen. He played. He fiddled. He added a little more contrast, adjusted the light.
The text didn't stand out enough, so he changed the font color.
"Come on, Ed!" Sean shouted. "We've got to get this thing rolling!"
"Just one more second!" He ran his hand over his bald head, tutting under his breath. It wasn't often that they got to do a color issue, and everything had to be just right. He made one more adjustment, nodded, and tipped his chair back.
"All right, Sean! Start the presses!"
"All right, kids," Sean said, trying to hide his distaste. There were twenty of them, a former class from Sagittaron on a field trip, all now orphaned at fourteen and fifteen. "You know how this works. Here's the list of the ships, and the numbers of bundles they get. Unless otherwise specified, fifty papers to a bundle, yeah? Now get to work."
The teenagers began sorting out the papers, but as soon as Sean left, the first order was naturally to open them.
"Anything about Mr. Zarek?" Margaret asked, looking over Steve's shoulder.
"Yeah," he said, flipping through. "Here's a piece profiling all of the Quorum members."
"Delegate Asiel looks like he has a stick up his ass," Margaret opined.
"They're doing a piece on finding space for everyone," Emma said, having looked further on.
"Gods, how boring," Sarah countered. She flipped a page, and her eyes widened. "Now this is more like it!" She held up the center article for everyone to see. "Hey, Amber! Look, it's Captain Adama!"
"Oooh!" Amber squealed and grabbed her own copy. "Oh, Gods, he's amazing. I'm so putting this up over my bed."
"You are not," Susan said primly. "That sort of filth shouldn't be published, much less out in public."
"It's not filth," Andrew countered, smirking at the picture in a way that suggested he was going to have very good dreams that night. "He's obviously just taken a shower. Must be clean as anything."
Susan rolled her eyes. "You know what I mean, Andrew."
"Can't say that I do. Hey, Alex," he nudged the boy sitting next to him with his elbow, "you're the one who wants to be a priest. Comment on the godliness of this for us, will you?"
Alex smirked up at Andrew and then turned his most sanctimonious face to Susan. "The Gods created us naked and in their image, so the scrolls say," he said seriously. Then he cracked a wicked grin. "Besides, the statues in any temple show a hell of a lot more. "
"Why couldn't he have dropped the towel?" Margaret sighed.
"Amen, sister," Sarah agreed, high-fiving her. Andrew and Alex exchanged sly glances.
Susan sniffed. "Well, I still think it's disgusting. Not to mention, he's a godless killer that will burn in hell. Not exactly what I want to be staring at. They ought to be ashamed of themselves. "
"And so should you all," Sean said, leaning against the doorway. The kids all started guiltily and went back to work at full speed. "Yeah, that's right," Sean said. "Keep working."
The first bundle of the Fleet-News magazine, thin on paper that had been recycled way too many times already, didn't hit the Admiral's study, or the CIC, or even the deck chief. Instead, Alex and Andrew- the only two who would even venture over to the ship of "godless killers"- had delivered the papers to Galactica. They were placed straight into the hands of Private Stewart Jaffee, who had long ago worked this arrangement out with the enthusiastic help of the rest of the mess crew. "Thanks, boys," he said, handing them each a packet of sandwiches. He really hated seeing these kids look so frakking hungry.
He picked up the bundles and carried them to the mess, where the rest of the crew was waiting eagerly. "I think it's time for our coffee break," Tranders said.
"I fully agree." Toplin bent down with one of the kitchen knives and began cutting the strings that bound the bundles together. But as she read the cover, she stopped for a long moment.
"What?" Jaffee asked.
"'Captain Apollo,'" Toplin read out, slowly, "'All God or All Man?'" She looked frantically at Tranders. "Tell me we can take a little more than five minutes."
Tranders picked up an issue and flipped it open. His eyes widened, and he began to laugh. "Oh, yeah," he said. "We can take more than five minutes. Jaffee, hand 'em out." Jaffee grinned broadly and began distributing the copies.
"Frak me," Toplin said, fanning herself.
"Huh," Bobbins said, his stomach shaking as he moved. "He's not that impressive."
Toplin backhanded him in said stomach. "Yeah, just three situps away from a six pack, right Bobbins?"
"And me just too lazy to do 'em," he agreed cheerfully.
"Does the article say anything about Starbuck?" Christensen asked eagerly. "I've got a pack of smokes riding on them."
"Who the frak did you get to take that bet?" Tranders asked. "Tell me, because I want to know what sucker on this ship is that stupid. No one really thinks those two aren't frakking, do they?"
"You'd think," Christensen said in a superior tone. "Well, does it?"
"Not a word," Macintosh said. He began to laugh evilly. "I've gotta say, I'm really glad I'm not stuck on clean up duty this week!"
The laughter that followed that was the raucous, bawdy sort that always accompanies any mention of masturbation, but was cut off immediately by Tranders saying, "Oh, Gods, Jaffee… you need a camera. Because you are going to get to take this to the Admiral with his morning coffee, and we all want to see his reaction."
Bill Adama would always remember that he was sitting at his desk reading a report on the status of the tylium supply when the magazine landed on his desk. And he would always remember that he picked up his coffee first and took a sip, because he wasn't the sort to snort coffee out his nose like he did that morning.
At least he didn't spit it on Private Jaffee.
He took a deep breath and gathered his composure. "Thank you, Private," he managed to say, and fortunately Jaffee had the courtesy to get the hell out.
Bill looked at the cover again, and then shook his head and opened the magazine. Then he picked up the phone. "This is the Admiral. Send Colonel Tigh down to my study immediately."
It wasn't the beefcake pose, or the fact his son was naked in a magazine, with only a strategically held towel covering him. It wasn't even the fact one of his officers was naked in a magazine. It was the text that went with it.
"Read this," he said, handing over the magazine the second Saul walked in.
Saul took it and recoiled. "When I said with our pants down and our asses hanging out, this wasn't what I meant."
"Can't see his ass," Bill said. "Read it."
Saul obeyed. And then he began to smirk. And then snicker. Finally, he was flat out laughing.
"It's not that there's anything in here that's really funny," Saul said, sitting down across from Bill. "But my Gods, Bill…."
"I know. Bill was laughing along with him. "I think the part that got me was when they used the word valiant."
"I'm kind of fond of the bit calling him the pilots' mother hen, myself." Saul shook his head. "What are you going to do about this?"
Bill closed his copy, creasing the edge neatly. "Not much I can do," he said. "It's been run."
"Going after the press would be a bad idea, especially after that Biers bitch kicked up her heels. And," Saul sighed, looking at the text again, "they've said a lot worse."
"Exactly. And this picture doesn't look posed. I'd wager Lee doesn't even know about this yet."
"Huh." Saul sat back. "What should we do about that?"
Bill shrugged. "Nothing," he said, but there was a little grin tugging on the corners of his mouth. "Nothing at all."
Saul debated about leaving an open copy of the magazine in the CIC, but guessed that it was redundant. Aside from the fact that a good number of officers would seek it out just for the picture, the truth was that people were so starved for new reading material that the Fleet-News could print the ingredients of the ration bars and people would read it. So Saul contented himself with watching the crew exchange sly, secretive looks and watching the general reaction when Lee entered the CIC.
He didn't know about the article yet, that much was clear from the way he entered, head held high like he owned the place. A couple of the petty officers giggled, and Tigh amused himself by glaring harshly at them.
"Captain," Bill said, and his face was completely straight, "I need you to take a look at this."
"What is it?" Lee bent over the table. Saul noticed Gaeta watching surreptitiously.
"Mr. Gaeta," he growled. "Do you have the readouts on the pressure levels on the C-deck?"
"Right here, sir," Gaeta said smoothly, handing over the paperwork and his face right back to its bland, professional mask.
Tigh grunted. "Good," he said. "Get back to work."
"Of course, sir," Gaeta said, as if he'd been working the whole time and not ogling the CAG's ass and exchanging silent messages with Dualla across the room about it. Tigh rolled his eyes and turned back to Bill and Lee.
"But if you run the refueling tomorrow, we could get the Viper drill in today," Lee was saying. "The cruiser can make it one more day."
"Unless the Cylons find us in the middle of the night," Bill said.
"Oh. Yeah, I didn't see that."
"Not seeing a lot of things, are you, Captain?" Tigh could resist asking.
Lee just blinked, and from tactical, Gaeta coughed.
Felix had never been so glad when a shift ended. Refuelings were a bitch, especially when he was trying to calculate the next set of jump coordinates, keep an eye on the pressure readings thanks to a small crack in one of the oxygen converters, convince Tyrol that that small crack had to be fixed now, deal with Tigh, keep Alghee and Riker from killing each other, and help Dee deal with the general traffic within the Fleet, all at the same time. Not to mention the small matter of watching the DRADIS for Cylons.
In short, he was beat, and he needed ten minutes to himself before he hit the mess hall.
He unbuttoned his uniform jacket and kicked off his boots, and climbed up into his rack. He adjusted the pillow, propping himself up against the shelf and drawing his knees up. Something seemed off, but he was too tired to bother to think about it. He drew the curtain and turned on his light, sighing as his feet and lower back began to relax. Then he pulled out the Fleet-News magazine, and after one more glance at an admittedly fantastic picture of Lee Adama, flipped back to the beginning and started reading.
The curtain was yanked open. "Gaeta."
"You could knock," he said, not looking up. "I had the privacy curtain drawn for a reason."
"Yeah, well, private time is over." Starbuck was grinning. "I've got a job for you."
"A job? Or orders?"
"Not orders." He still wasn't looking up.
"Not orders," Starbuck admitted.
"Then frak off."
"Oh, you don't want me to do that," Starbuck said.
He looked up at her and sighed. "Believe me, Starbuck, I do. Taking a long walk out of a short airlock would be a favorite."
"Oh, you definitely don't want me to do that. You're going to help me."
"And what could possibly give you the impression I would ever want to help you?" Felix asked, turning back to his magazine.
At least, until a battered, matted stuffed elephant appeared in his face.
"You bitch!" he shouted, tossing the magazine aside and lunging for the elephant. But Starbuck backed up and held it away from him, laughing the entire time.
"Do I have your attention, Gaeta?" she asked.
"I'm listening," he ground out. "What do you want?"
"I see you've seen the picture of our brave Captain Apollo." Starbuck nodded to the magazine lying askew on Felix's rack.
"Yes…" he began.
"I think the pilots- who, as Apollo himself admitted, completely deserve special treatment- need to see it as well." Starbuck's smile was mischievous.
"Then they can pick up a magazine."
"Anyone can do that. No, I think they need to see it… larger than life." Her grin only widened.
Felix's suspicion deepened. "I'm not convincing Captain Adama to do a striptease in the ready room."
Starbuck burst out laughing. "Oh, Gods," she said, wiping her eyes, "there are times I wish I actually liked you, Gaeta."
"Yeah, well the feeling is mutual."
"You can hack into the feed for the display monitors pretty easily, right?"
He immediately saw what she planned to do, and had to admit that the idea was pretty funny. Not that he'd let her know that. "I can," he said. He looked down at her hands. "And George?"
"George?" Kara's smile grew more mocking, but something in his face made her stop. Maybe it was just the reminder that they all needed a little security, something from the past that they could cling to at night. "You do this for me, you get George back and I don't say a word about it. You don't, George finds a new home, and I tell everyone."
"All right," Felix agreed. "The pilots have a briefing in two hours, right?" Starbuck nodded. "Let's do this."
"The first order of business; I have a complaint from Captain Kelly about landing protocol," Lee said. He turned away from the displays.
Click. All of the screens flashed to an identical picture, and stifled giggles popped up around the ready room.
"What?" Lee demanded. No one answered, and he glanced back at the displays.
Click. All that was visible were tactics, DRADIS screens, and simulations. Lee shrugged and turned back to the pilots, and Kara managed to look bored.
Click. Lee Adama again, naked and holding a towel.
This time, Lee ignored the snickers. "Landing protocol," he said, casting an evil eye around the room. "As in, a lot of you are taking shortcuts and not following it. For that matter, I'm getting the same sort of complaints from Deck Chief Tyrol. And it's not the nuggets."
Kara raised her hand, and Lee stared at her suspiciously before saying, "Yes, Lieutenant?"
"Is this regarding some of the pilots hitting hot and hard, and stripping the deck?"
The giggles were smothered, but definitely audible. And Lee was clearly annoyed.
"As a matter of fact, Lieutenant, it is. And your name came up once or twice."
"Well, did you tell them that we're all man, not all god?" And Kara knew that normally, that was in no way a funny remark, but the resultant outburst of laughter indicated that today, it most definitely was.
"What the frak is going on?" Lee demanded. He looked around the room. Kat and Hot Dog were nearly falling onto each other laughing, and even Helo was covering his grin with his hand. But no one answered Lee's question. He shook his head impatiently and turned back to his notes. "As I was saying," he continued, "we're getting complaints about landing protocol, and not just technique. A lot of you are skipping the clearance procedures. If you look here-"
Click. Display panels again.
Really, Kara thought, continuing to look bored and caressing the little clicker in her hand, she might actually have to thank Gaeta when she returned that stupid stuffed elephant. This was totally worth it.
Hot Dog didn't think he'd laughed so hard since before the Colonies were attacked. That briefing was the best time he'd had in months, and now it was going to be followed up by a card game with Starbuck, Kat, and Dee. Three beautiful woman and a game of cards… now this was what the life of a pilot was supposed to be like.
Of course, the three beautiful women were completely cleaning him out.
He was grateful when he saw Apollo, and for a moment even forgot about that silly picture. "Can I join you?" Apollo asked.
Kat and Dee looked at each other and stifled their giggles.
"Sure, Lee," Starbuck said. "Sit next to me. Make way for Apollo, nugget," she ordered, and Hot Dog moved aside. Truthfully, he was relieved as he was suspecting that Starbuck might be peeking into his hand. Although, if the rest of the game was any indication, she wasn't. He was just having a really shitty game.
It didn't help that Kat and Dee were making eyes and Starbuck was making horrible double whatever-they-were-calleds. But Hot Dog had always been a relatively easy-going sort of guy, and he kept up his own stream of jokes.
After all, it was nice to see someone else get to be the butt of a joke for a while.
And it really soothed the pain of losing the pot when Kat said, "You're so dreamy, sir," and swooned right into Hot Dog's arms. And he couldn't even be mad when Dee pushed the pot towards Apollo.
"Sir, these winnings are yours."
"This has all been real funny," Apollo said, "but would you like to tell me what's going on?"
"Vow of silence," Kat said.
"Like a priestess!" Kara howled with delight.
Apollo got up in frustration. "Fine," he snapped, and pushed away from the table, leaving the pot.
Starbuck watched him go, still laughing. "Well, shit," she said, looking back at the table. "Everyone remember what they put in?"
But Hot Dog noticed Dee wasn't laughing any more.
Dee was the first to admit that she'd laughed, and laughed her ass off. But now that she knew that Lee had no idea what everyone was laughing about, a lot of the humor drained out of it. Dee had seen Lee's schedule- it wasn't like it left a whole lot of downtime for recreational reading. The joke was hysterical if he knew exactly why the Fleet was laughing and calling him Captain Apollo constantly. It was a lot less funny when he had no idea.
She studied her copy. She had to admit, she'd dearly love to keep it because… well, it was Lee. But if this was there without his knowledge… it wasn't like she didn't know what he looked like naked. She'd managed a peek here and there, despite the unspoken rule of eyes above the chin at all times in the showers. But it seemed dirty now, and not in a good way.
With a sigh, she tucked her copy into her jacket and slipped out of her own lockers and down to the racks where the pilots slept.
No one was in, and Dee couldn't resist looking around. While she'd never wanted to be a pilot and was perfectly happy in her bridge bunny stature, even she had to admit there was a certain dirty glamour around the job. She peeked into racks, spotting photos here, patches there. And when she found Lee's, she really couldn't help looking.
The thing was, Lee was just so… so… Dee couldn't think of the word for it, but she was pretty sure there was chemistry there. The article had used the word alluring, and as humorous as that bit of purple prose was, it was also accurate. They were thoughts Billy would not appreciate her having, but at the same time she couldn't deny it.
She sighed, and tossed the magazine onto Lee's bunk and let herself out.
And when Lee saw the cover, with its blazing text screaming Captain Apollo: All God or All Man?, so many things about his day now made complete sense.