Pairing: Lee/Kara (surprised?)
Cute Factor: High
Summary: "Just let me do it, okay? Get it over with. You know you want to."
Author's Note: This ficlet was initially created to answer a prompt in the "Hugs, Cuddles, and Kisses" Ficathon run by oxoniensis, so you know you're in for some warm fuzzies here, no angstfic like last time! I feel good that my second fic is cheerful. I quickly exceeded the size limit when I sat down to write this one, so this version here is the "extended edition." (The original short version is here.) Many thanks to bitterlatinist for the beta.
The wonderful bop_radar requested the pairing (yay), prompt ("giggly"), POV, and subject matter, so I hope you like it, Boppy! Thank you so much for your friendship and all your help these last two weeks.
Feedback is much appreciated of course.
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“Damn it Kara, would you hold still for just one minute?”
“What the hell is taking you so long?”
“What’s taking so long is you keep squirming.”
“I am not,” she huffed. “Well—not much.”
“Just let me do it, okay? Get it over with. You know you want to.”
“Fine,” she said through gritted teeth, and he cradled her foot in both hands again. Instantly he felt her body tense. “Gods, relax,” he said, and she bit her lip. “And no kicking, or I’ll haul you down to sickbay.”
“Over a splinter?” She rolled her eyes. “Please.”
“I think it’s a shard of glass, actually.” He peered at the sole of her foot again, and picked up the tweezers. “A thin one. Hard to see. Didn’t Hotdog break a bottle of cologne…?”
"Yeah." Her brows knit together, and for a moment the focus of her irritation shifted away from him. He should use that time. “Dropped it in the head the other day, and it still stinks. Don’t I have the luck of the gods,” she muttered, and now he had it, he almost had it, but then his thumb shifted just a little over her heel, and her foot jerked.
He grasped it a little more firmly. She made a noise like a gasp, and his hands stilled. He needed another distraction. “Well, I'm here to help you, at least," he said, "although now I’m wondering why.” Too many reasons, really; no need to tell her that.
“Yeah, and I am so grateful. Apollo, god of splinters. The answer to my prayers.”
“Mine will be answered,” he replied calmly, “when you hold still for just five seconds.” Her foot twitched again, and he sighed. “Should I just give up?”
“Frak you, Lee. I was doing fine on my own.”
“Clearly.” He didn’t try to hide his grin now. She’d tried to get it out by herself, but her knee simply couldn’t flex well enough yet for her to manage it. Everyone in the hall had heard her swearing, even with the hatch to their quarters dogged; he was still impressed with the volubility of her stream of curses. The rest had scattered, too, which suited him just fine. “What’s so funny?” she demanded.
He didn’t think he’d tell her how adorable she was when she was trying to scare everyone off.
“Lee, if you are laughing at me, I swear—”
“Laugh? Now why would I do that?” He glanced up, but she still wouldn't meet his eyes. “It’s only Starbuck the invincible, felled by a sliver. That’s not funny at all.”
Her gaze snapped back over to him, and he smiled. “Shut up. It doesn’t really hurt. Just a little—ah—twinge.”
“Ah, I see. So we should just leave it then.” She flinched as he pressed the sole of her foot again, and he let it drop. That earned him an even fiercer glare, but as he tried to hold her eyes, they slid away.
Lee rocked farther back in his chair, and let himself study her legs stretched in front of him, bare to the thigh. After all, he had an excuse to look. The mess of scars and stitches on her knee was far less visible now, though he knew sometimes she pushed herself too hard in the weightroom and made the swelling flare up all over again. Right now it looked pretty good, all of it.
Kara must have noticed him staring, because her hand suddenly flew to cover the fading bruises, and she shifted in her seat.
He had to make her look at him, not the floor.
“So,” he drawled. “How long have you been walking on it like that, a day or two?” She didn’t answer, and he snorted. “Really, Kara.”
“Didn’t hurt much.”
“Just every time you stepped on it.”
“Nice lecture, Captain, but I know what I can handle. Although, I admit, it is irritating. Kind of like you.” She shoved her foot at him like she was doing him a favor, and let out a long sigh. “Just get it out, okay?”
Now he was watching her mouth, the way her teeth worried her lip, and he realized there was something else. “I’m sorry,” he said softly, and leaned in to catch her foot again. She shivered. “Does it really hurt?”
She shook her head.
“But it is something.” She still wouldn’t look up. “C’mon, Kara, I can’t do this if—”
“All right,” she snapped. “It doesn’t really hurt. But when you—your hand—” she paused, looking utterly disgusted. “It…it tickles, okay?”
He fought the urge to smile. This was good, this was so, so good. She was going to pay, but he had to get that damn sliver out first. He schooled his face into a more innocent expression.
“Right,” he said firmly. “Here’s what you’re gonna to do: tell me exactly how you’re going to get back at Hotdog, hold still, and then it’ll be done. Over. Now go.”
She seemed a little startled by the order at first, but soon she was energetically describing many possible revenges for his clumsiness, stench, and inability to sweep up after himself. He almost felt sorry for the nugget’s future, but before she had time to think, he removed the shard in one swift movement.
“There.” He held it up. "I think that's all of it." She gave it one resentful glance, and flexed her foot experimentally. Then she gathered herself to rise, but he was still grasping her ankle, and she tried to tug it away from him. “We’re not done yet,” he said, when she shot him another look. “Have to disinfect it.” He didn’t let go as he reached for the antiseptic. Her body was still tense, and she looked like she wanted to punch him; her hand curled into a fist, but she let him dab the cool gel over the cut, slowly, carefully. He heard a hitch in her breathing, and he let his gaze run slowly up the length of her leg, flick up to her mouth as she moistened her lips, and he was breathless too.
“I don’t believe it anyway, you know,” he said as he patted on a bandage. Her toes curled. “The mighty Starbuck. Ticklish. No, that can’t be.”
“You’re a bastard,” she breathed, but now her lips were trembling into a smile, and his fingertips grazed the length of her instep one last time, and then he attacked. She shrieked and kicked, giggling madly, and then she was launching herself at him before he was ready, and as he hit the floor, he knew he shouldn’t have counted on beating her reflexes or readiness, even with a bad knee. He had held back, and she never would; she was pinning him down, and now he saw the flaw in his plan, or the genius of it, because her hands were scrabbling beneath his tanks, and he was ticklish too. He didn’t even want to make her stop. He just pulled her close, and his laughter was uncontrollable.
“That bum knee is—looking pretty good,” he wheezed, and she beamed at him in triumph.