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Almost Like Living

Title: Almost Like Living
Rating: R
Word Count: ~2300
Pairing: Kara/Lee
Written for: bsg_pornbattle prompt Kara/Lee, after the funeral, paintbrush, stubble
Summary: Gods, he’s actually come to her for comfort and she almost laughs.

Kara first discovered paint when she was four. Not the stuff itself, but what it could do. She’d been woken in the middle of the night by her parents—all heated voices and words she didn’t know—and it burned, boiled inside of her until she thought she might just burst. Afraid to leave her room, she took out her watercolor set and paper and poured it all into the colors—smearing broad strokes across the page, messy and muted until the shouting was gone and she felt at peace again. Content, she crawled back under the covers and fell asleep. From that day on, whenever the world became too much for her to bear, she’d retreat with her paints and pour out her soul until she felt solid again. Later, when she was older, she discovered booze and sex could get the job done for a while, but they were still no replacement for a paintbrush.

Which leaves her now, standing before her canvas—blank and white and glaring back at her for days. She has paint caking on her skin, spattered across the oversized white button-down she uses for a smock, pooling at her feet on her drop cloth, but not a single stroke or handprint has made it onto the canvas. No relief. But maybe relief isn’t hers, not now, not when it’s her own damned fault she’s standing here alone.

Perhaps the only part of her that belongs on the canvas is herself—blood, guts, tears, and penance. Open herself up and pour herself out. The idea screams in her ears, loud and buzzing, and it’s no surprise she doesn’t hear the knock at the front door, or the way it swings open, unlocked. She hears nothing until that voice and she thinks she might just throw up if there was anything in her system.

“Like what you’ve done with the place.” There’s no bite in his sarcasm, but she pretends there is. It’s easier if she pretends, easier if she doesn’t look at him.

“You don’t belong here, Lee.”

He doesn’t shout—doesn’t fight—just says, “Kara,” so soft and so tired that it hits something in her. The same something that hit her the moment she first saw him, and the same something she’s pushed aside so long she’s grown accustomed to living with it buried inside her. When she turns to look at him, he looks like Hades on a cracker. His hair disheveled, unwashed and greasy. Dark circles rim his eyes, dull now, lacking their usual brightness. His cheeks are drawn and scratched with stubble, and he smells like stale beer. His clothes looks like he picked them up off the floor, but she can’t say any different about herself.

Gods, he’s actually come to her for comfort and she almost laughs. The smart thing would be to send him running now. Away. There’s nothing she can do for him. Maybe if she’d gotten any sleep her tongue might actually be working, but it clearly isn’t because she asks, “Have you eaten anything?”

“No.”

Wordlessly, she retreats to the kitchen and returns moments later. “Sit,” she commands, pointing to the couch. He does and she rewards him with the paper plate she’s holding. “Eat.”

“It’s bread,” he says studying the contents. “Stale bread.”

“And there are starving children on Saggitaron. Now eat, you look like you’re about to keel over.”

“What about you?” he mutters. “You look like you haven’t slept all week.” But he eats and something that feels like happiness flutters through her. It’s gone as quickly as it came.

“I’m getting by,” she says turning to her canvas. “I just need to finish this first.”

Lee’s eyes fall on the blankness. “Finish? Did you even start?”

“Why are you even here, Lee?” she snaps just to have something to say.

He hangs his head. “I don’t know. I just needed to get out for a while.”

“And you just ended up here?”

He looks up at her, doesn’t answer her. “You’ve got something…” he motions to her cheek and she gropes blindly for a moment before he waves her over. “Just come here.” He reaches up, peeling a dried fleck of blue paint from underneath her eye. “I guess I just wanted some company, get out of my own head for a little while.”

Kara slides down beside him on the couch, and it’s the closest thing she’s felt to something other than empty in what feels like forever—even though it’s only really been a matter of days. His hand falls on her bare knee and a shiver shudders through her. Connection. She feels grounded, like she’s coming out of free fall, and she lets her shoulder rest against his.

“I miss him, too,” she says in a voice she doesn’t recognize as her own by the way it cracks. He leans some weight against her and he’s warm and solid by her side; she feels heat rising in her face, and unbuttons her smock to cool herself off. Lee’s eyes follow her hands and she sees the recognition in them when the t-shirt beneath is revealed. She glances down at herself, running her fingers over the fabric, remembering other times she’s curled this shirt in her hands. “It stopped smelling like him yesterday,” she barely whispers.

And suddenly something between them breaks. She isn’t sure whether she kissed him or he kissed her but his mouth is on hers, tongue sliding between her lips. She licks back at him, arms tangling around his neck and drawing him closer, because for the first time in nearly a week she feels her heart pounding in her chest, feels warm under Lee’s touch. Lungs demand oxygen when his lips break from hers, trailing along her jaw and neck. She tangles her fingers in his hair, gasps as his hands gather her shirt and push it up over her head in one fluid movement. She’s bare beneath him now, save for her briefs.

It’s wrong, so wrong but there’s blood rushing in her veins and there’s a glimmer in his eyes again and maybe, just maybe. She grabs at his shirt, tearing it off him and he descends on her again, lips and tongue and teeth igniting fires inside her. A sharp ache flares where he grinds his hips into hers, hardness pressing against her though the fabric of his pants and she moans into his mouth.

His hand slips down her body, slides under her briefs, fingers finding her hot and wet, and gently stroking at her entrance and she feels, gods she feels, and it’s selfish but she wants more. “Please, Lee,” she groans and his hand slides away, working furiously to free himself, kicking his jeans down to his knees and she skips a precious breath in anticipation.

When he slides into her, she forgets for a moment that she’s most definitely going to Hades, but it doesn’t matter because right now she is alive. She locks her legs around him, trying to draw him deeper, trying desperately not to lose this feeling, this connection. She claws at his back, as their hips rock together and against each other.

Her breath catches as he changes the tempo, like he can’t make up his mind. Like he can’t make himself go slow and steady because it’s not his place, but doesn’t want it to end either and she can’t blame him. She pulls his head down to hers, and when she feels his heart pounding furiously in his chest, beating against her own, she steals a too gentle kiss from his lips and he closes his eyes.

Lee buries his face against her neck, stubble scratching against her shoulder. She feels dampness by her ear, but doesn’t think much of it. She doesn’t think much of anything as he drives into her again and again, harder, faster now—each thrust adding to the heat coiled tight in her belly and, gods, she doesn’t ever want him to stop. She holds on for as long as she can before the world comes apart around her, gasping again when he rocks into her once, twice more and release shudders through him.

Her breathing slowly starts to return to normal. His doesn’t. His face remains buried against her neck, still lying half on top of her, and he is trembling in her arms. Her brow furrows, and she shoves aside the tears that are prickling the corners of her own eyes. She drops her forehead against his shoulder, runs one hand over his back and holds him against her, and realizes once his breathing has calmed that he’s cried himself to sleep. She shifts underneath him and shuts her eyes, letting the sound of his even breathing lull her to sleep.

She wakes the next morning to the sound of the door opening, and finds she’s still sprawled across the couch with her smock draped across her torso. She looks up to see Lee standing above her with two cups of coffee and a paper bag. “I thought,” he says, descending the stairs, “I’d make some breakfast, but you didn’t have anything in the kitchen so I went out to get something.”

“Thanks.” She sits up, pulling the oversized shirt on, sliding the buttons in to place. Lee averts his eyes until she’s decent, and she thinks he might actually be blushing. She lets out a laugh and he turns to her.

“What?” he asks.

She just shakes her head and accepts the paper to-go mug he hands her. “Nothing.” She watches as he uncrumples the bag and sets a breakfast sandwich on the coffee table in front of her. Her head spins a little bit because it’s so much like her first morning with Zak. It hadn’t been their first night together, because they’d started out just frakking (nothing more, because she couldn’t be developing actual feelings for her student, -- not for anyone, but especially not her student). Then one night she finally relented to his almost incessant pleas and let him crash with her until morning. She woke up to breakfast and him smiling at her like a dumb, grateful puppy, and she couldn’t help but grin and drag him back into bed. Raising her mug to her lips, she realizes the memory doesn’t sting as much as it should—it should eat her alive—and she chokes a little on her coffee.

“Are you alright?” he asks.

“Yeah, fine.” She looks down at where she spluttered the coffee down her shirtfront. She drabs at it with her sleeve until the hot liquid becomes one cool, brown stain across her chest.

Heaving a sigh, she sets the mug down and picks up the sandwich because her stomach is screaming at her, reminding her she never actually ate anything yesterday. They eat in silence, until Lee finally puts down his food and looks at her.

“Thank you.” He clears his throat. “I, um… last night, I… I really needed…”

She lets him off the hook. “Me too.” And it hits her that she doesn’t want to know where this is going, so she says, “Let’s not make a big deal out of it.”

Lee picks up his coffee again and stares at the steam rising from the hole in the lid. “Right.” She can’t tell if he sounds relieved or not, but he changes the subject and stays with her. They sit on the couch and talk about meaningless things that almost have them smiling for the rest of the morning, and around noon she lets him use her shower while she gets dressed.

By the time Lee’s clean and looking human again, she’s sitting on her bed looking at the piles of Zak around the room: her shirts mixed in with his jeans wherever they just happened to fall, his textbooks on her nightstand, his deodorant lying uncapped and on its side on the dresser—stupid and messy and she always had to pick up after him, but now she can’t exactly bear to touch any of it. Lee leans against the doorway. “Are you going to need help? Packing his stuff up?”

“I’ll get to it later,” she says, pushing herself to her feet and brushing past him as she walks out into the living room. “What are you going to do now, Lee?”

He digs his hands into his pockets, shrugs his shoulders. “Not sure. I have a couple more weeks before my next drill weekend.”

“Benefits of being in the reserves.” Kara shakes her head. “Lazy bum.” It actually gets him to laugh, and, gods, they have the exact same laugh and all of a sudden she can’t really breathe. “So what, you just planning to hang around here?” He shrugs again and smiles and the idea doesn’t seem so bad. And suddenly she knows this needs to stop. Everything needs to stop. Every minute he’s here is a minute he’s with his brother’s murderer and she has no right to feel so happy to have him near. She clears her throat and looks away. “Well, my leave days are running out, so—”

“Oh, are you going back to your classes?”

“No, I quit.” She says, almost too abruptly. “Actually, your dad offered me a position on Galactica and I—”

“He what?” Everything about Lee’s demeanor hardens, a fierceness burns in his eyes and his hands are clenched at his sides. “Kara, you can’t seriously be thinking about serving under him.”

“Why the hell not, Lee?” She folds her arms across her chest, stance wide.

Because it’s his frakking fault that Zak is dead!

Lee’s raised voice sends ice rushing in her veins, it’s a rant he’s clearly been holding in for too long, but she can’t even really make out the words because the idea has hit her. This is it. This will make everything stop.

—should have never been in that plane in the first place and—

“Get out.”

“What?”

“I said get out, Lee.”

He throws his hands in the air. “I can’t believe this. You’re siding with the man who got your fiancé killed.”

“You make it sound like your old man put a gun to his head and fired!”

“Well, he might as well have!” Lee’s face goes dark and dangerous. “The way he went on and on about how a man wasn’t a man until he wore the wings of a viper pilot. Zak died trying to live up to Dad’s ridiculous expectations.”

Her lips are set in a straight line. “You’re going to play the moral high ground card? That’s pretty hilarious the day after you frakked your dead brother’s fiancée. Though maybe I should give you a little credit, you did wait until he was out of the way.”

And he’s gone—up the stairs and out of the apartment leaving nothing but the sound of a slamming door in his wake, and her with venom racing in her veins. She crosses the room to the empty canvas, grabs a brush and it comes in waves now, everything finally flowing out of her—pain and rage in broad strokes until nothing is white anymore.

It’s almost good. It almost feels like living.

Comments

( 31 comments — Leave a comment )
aurora_0811
Oct. 24th, 2009 03:10 am (UTC)
This just about broke my heart. It was hotness mixed in with sadness. Kara's words are so harsh at the end but you know she's punishing herself more than anything because of the guilt she's carrying.

Poor Lee having to deal with the grief all alone and ending up on Kara's doorstep. *sniff*

I love the beginning and ending with the paint, such an awesome vehicle for Kara's feelings.
rayruz
Oct. 24th, 2009 03:20 am (UTC)
I almost broke my heart writing it! :*( <---emo tear


Kara's words are so harsh at the end but you know she's punishing herself more than anything because of the guilt she's carrying.
I'm so glad that came through. :D It's true... Kara, baby, you need to stop hurting yourself eventually...
(no subject) - callmeonetrack - Oct. 24th, 2009 04:12 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rayruz - Oct. 24th, 2009 12:33 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - cherylad - Oct. 24th, 2009 12:47 pm (UTC) - Expand
daybreak777
Oct. 24th, 2009 03:10 am (UTC)
Wow. This was really good. It started out so sweet.

She drops her forehead against his shoulder, runs one hand over his back and holds him against her, and realizes once his breathing has calmed that he’s cried himself to sleep.
Kara actually comforting Lee! Tara's going to love this. :-) So nice to see them unguarded with each other.

“Let’s not make a big deal out of it.”
Oh, kids.

Though maybe I should give you a little credit, you did wait until he was out of the way.”
That's the kids too. Sweet and sexy and then painful and angsty. All wrapped up in one skillful little fic. :-)

Thanks for this one. Really captured them. :-)
rayruz
Oct. 24th, 2009 03:21 am (UTC)
Yeah, I wanted mutual comfort going on but I think I sort of needed Lee to be the one crying... and damn to her it's her fault he's in so much pain.

*Sigh* Oh Pilots.

I'm glad you liked this.
(no subject) - callmeonetrack - Oct. 24th, 2009 04:14 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - daybreak777 - Oct. 24th, 2009 12:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
cherylad
Oct. 24th, 2009 12:43 pm (UTC)
OMG ... this was so raw and open. I can absolutely see this as happening. Of course they would reach out to each other, the moment they met - they connected and they knew they could do nothing about it; but in their pain and loss they would find each other.

And, poor Kara! *sigh* she really carried that forward for a very long time.

Awesome,awesome work.
rayruz
Oct. 24th, 2009 12:45 pm (UTC)
It's also kind of tragic, I mean there is the stupid guilt and anger keeping them apart which is just... guys cut it out! *sigh* Oh pilots.

Glad you liked it!
(no subject) - cherylad - Oct. 25th, 2009 02:50 am (UTC) - Expand
cosetteferaud
Oct. 24th, 2009 09:16 pm (UTC)
Wow, I am impressed. This is so good. Love the bittersweet feeling permeating the whole story. It is raw and honest, and their voices ring very true, especially the way they comfort each other through sex --and how this sex is both about Zak’s loss and about them. My favorite bit of the sexing scene is when Lee rests his head against Kara’s neck and cries, and how she unhesitatingly comforts him. This moment of such unguarded and vulnerable intimacy is so very sweet.

I love the relatively normal domesticity of the morning after too, how they seem to deal with it just fine, until Kara can’t take it anymore and thrashes with cruelty and harshness, that too familiar way to deal with her guilt. Sigh. Poor kids... Ok, and I know I am rambling but it is just because this is such a fabulous work :)
rayruz
Oct. 25th, 2009 11:57 am (UTC)
Wow, thank you so much. :) I'm glad it rang true I was worried about it. And poor, grieving Lee.

Your ramble makes me happy :D
elzed
Oct. 24th, 2009 10:41 pm (UTC)
Argh.

Total canon, this. Angsty, desperate, hot, tragic, frakked up (well-writtent) canon.

Dude.
rayruz
Oct. 25th, 2009 11:36 am (UTC)
Heeee. Thank you so much.
isla_verdad
Oct. 24th, 2009 10:59 pm (UTC)
I love this longer version. I still want to squish Lee and hold him tight while he's crying, but Kara does a lovely job of it on her own. I liked Kara's flashback to her first morning with Zak, it added a nice poignancy to her morning after with Lee that is missing from a lot of fics from this era. Aw, but the ending brings us back to harsh reality of silly mixed up baby!pilots. Nicely written but still breaks my heart every time.

I really enjoy your writing, thanks for being so prolific!
rayruz
Oct. 25th, 2009 11:36 am (UTC)
Kara and Lee need to have more snuggle time. I've just decided this. Clearly.

I'm glad you like my writing! I'll try to get some more done before the battle ends.
ecstaticdance
Oct. 27th, 2009 04:28 am (UTC)
Oh, gods. My heart just broke a little for the two of them. Very well done, Ray. And so nicely tied into canon. Bravo.
rayruz
Oct. 28th, 2009 01:46 am (UTC)
Thanks! I'm so glad you enjoyed it, even if it hurt. :(
rdave1
Oct. 27th, 2009 04:43 pm (UTC)
I really love this! It kinda comes full circle from the beginning to the end. Kara starts and ends at the same place. It gut wrenching too because in their own ways, the pilots are dealing with grief and sadness over loosing Zak.

Really great work!
rayruz
Oct. 28th, 2009 01:40 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'm glad you enjoyed it.
fallingtowers
Nov. 1st, 2009 01:48 pm (UTC)
Here via bsg_pornbattle:

This is an amzing, wonderfully characterized gap-filler that fits just perfectly into canon. I especially like how seamless and organic the sex scene is woven into the overall story and its mood: Kara using Lee to make herself feel again and him using her to cry himself to sleep afterwards -- yeah, that's my poor angst-ridden OTP.
rayruz
Nov. 1st, 2009 02:30 pm (UTC)
Thank you, I'm so glad that it fit for you. :)
olaf47
Nov. 14th, 2009 01:15 pm (UTC)
This is good. Really good. If you ever continue it, let me know. You write their relationship well.
rayruz
Dec. 18th, 2009 01:11 am (UTC)
Thanks so much. I may incorporate this idea into my big bang fic.
cynicalshadows
Dec. 17th, 2009 06:01 am (UTC)
Oh God. This was just all kinds of hot and sad and painful. The guilt and the missed opportunity and the way they hurt one another. *cries* This was so good. Kara's observation that Zak's shirt had stopped smelling like him hit me especially hard. Excellent job.
rayruz
Dec. 18th, 2009 01:11 am (UTC)
:( Sorry to make you cry! But I'm glad you thought it was good. *gives you a tissue* Thanks for reading.
nazkey
Jan. 27th, 2011 09:58 am (UTC)
This is another of my favorites. They keep doing this to each other. Seeking comfort and then pushing each other away because somewhere deep inside they don't want to face reality. I have to say I really love Kara here. Yes, she sleeps with Lee, but she understands why so much better than he does. I think this is always the case with them. Kara has more of an awareness of why they cannot be/are not together.

I love this Ray. Really love it.
rayruz
Jan. 28th, 2011 03:21 pm (UTC)
Well, she should, lol. I think her issues keep them apart more than anything else. I mean, the fact that she carries so much self-doubt and.. well I'd go so far as to say a good deal of self-loathing... I mean, yes, Lee's not a total innocent in that situation, but Kara wouldn't be Kara if underneath all that bravado she was afraid of getting hurt/hurting people she cared about.
onlyariana
Oct. 2nd, 2011 02:25 am (UTC)
Ouch. She's so good at doing what (she feels) needs to be done. It hurts because maybe they could have just been happy. Eh, probably not.
( 31 comments — Leave a comment )

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