Characters: Kara Thrace, Lee Adama and minor appearances by Racetrack, Narcho, Sam
Summary: Season 3 AU. Kara reups with the Colonial Fleet but her choices have left her with a new set of consequences. Returning from the algae planet mission, Kara's left to realize the things she cares about and the things she wants.
Author’s Note: Beta’d by the lovely scifishipper with an extra special helping hand from callmeonetrack!
Need to catch up? All Chapters Here.
"Get out of my sickbay," Cottle muttered gruffly through his surgical mask. "Standing around like a roadblock isn't going to do him a damned bit of good."
Kara stared at the closed curtain surrounding Lee's bed; she had been staring since they'd been ushered into sickbay by the medics when they’d returned to Galactica. The image of Lee soaked in his own blood, head resting in her lap as they waited for the SAR birds to take them off the planet, swam up in her mind. Stomach churning, she forced the thought away. He was going to be fine, he had to be.
Nodding stiffly, Kara moved aside to let a nurse pass her with a surgical tray before turning on her heel and heading for the corridor. She didn't even know where she was going, but the route was familiar. Her body moved of its own accord, feet leading her down a few decks and up to a hatch she'd come to know so well.
She raised her fist to knock, pausing for half a second. She'd never just dropped in on Stoffa unannounced, always been escorted with Marines flanking her sides. But right now, with her chest tight and thoughts racing, it was the only place she felt she could be.
After three sound knocks, the hatch swung open. Stoffa stood in the doorway with two books in his hand. His eyes went wide as they swept over her, taking in the bandages and bruises on her arms and face. "My gods," he said. "Are you all right, Kara? What happened?"
Kara felt heat rising in her face as she fixed him with a firm glare. "I frakking froze up in the middle of a battle. That's what frakking happened," she fumed. She pushed past him into his quarters, hands planted on her hips. "I thought this wasn't going to happen anymore. How the hell am I supposed to go out there and do my godsdamned job if this shit keeps happening to me?”
It took her a moment to realize what she was seeing. A suitcase lay open on the doc’s rack, halfway filled with clothes and books. He was packing to leave. Of course he was. Her sentence was over, no reason now for the Admiral to keep him on board.
She didn’t have time to dwell on the sudden feeling of chasing something she couldn’t catch. Stoffa was already talking. "You were in combat?"
"It was a frakking supply run down to that rock. I could've done it in my sleep. But then the frakking toasters had to screw the whole thing up. I got boxed in when the bullets starting flying and I couldn't move. I dropped my godsdamned sidearm, and just…" She huffed out a breath and turned her fury on Stoffa. "You were supposed to fix that!"
“Remember what we talked about at the last meeting?” he reminded her calmly.
There is no frakking magic bullet. This kind of thing takes time. She knew that, but it didn’t make it any better. “I’m sick of waiting around for my life.”
“But you’re not,” Stoffa said. “Think about where you were a month ago… sitting in a prison cell, facing a dishonorable discharge for assaulting an officer. And now you’re back in the field. You made it through an unexpected attack, alive and whole, if not slightly banged up.”
“Yeah, but only because—” Kara trailed off, the image of blood flashing through her mind again.
“Here,” Stoffa said. He slid out a chair for her.
Kara’s hands dropped to her side, her heart starting up a furious rhythm in her chest. Letting out a shaky breath, she let herself drop into the seat. “I couldn’t frakking handle it out there.”
“Having a flashback is not a sign that you can’t handle your job. Something that happened in that battle set it off, and being able to face that trigger and get past it is what will help you with time.”
“I wouldn’t have gotten past it at all if Lee didn’t pull my ass out of the line of fire!” The words rushed out and with them all the air Kara had in her lungs. It felt like she had punched herself in the chest. Lee Adama had saved her life. After everything she had done to him, he still saved her. She wanted to write it off as unflagging professionalism—never leave a man behind—but when the hell had things ever been professional between them?
She remembered his voice cutting through the sheer terror that had gripped her. It’s me. I’ve got you. Her voice dropped. “Frakking idiot got himself shot trying to save me. I don’t know what the hell he was thinking.”
“You might have done just fine, Kara, you don’t know. Flashbacks can end just as quickly as they begin. Why don’t you tell me what might have triggered it.”
“I don’t frakking know. I ducked down because bullets were flying there was nowhere to go. I was frakking trapped there and then there was Leoben. That frakker had me, telling me I couldn’t get away and he grabbed me, and then it was Lee shaking me.” Her voice was hollow, flashes of Leoben and the firefight flickering in her mind.
“So Lee saved you.”
“Yeah, he frakking saved me. He had to. I froze up in the line of fire.” Kara stared hard at her hands in her lap, the blood on her pants – Lee’s blood. She swallowed hard.
Silence hung heavy in the room as she realized Stoffa was studying her. “Can I ask you a question?” Kara gave him a wary nod. “What did you do? After Lee was shot?”
She arched an eyebrow at him, not sure why that was important. “Helped get him to higher ground, tried to stop the bleeding while we waited for the godsdamned raptors to get there.”
“And then what? How’d you end up here?”
“He’s in sick bay. Cottle says he’s going to be fine…” Suddenly her throat went dry – the thought of him not being okay hit her hard. “Then the old bastard kicked me out.”
“It sounds like you care about him, Kara.”
Her eyes flashed angrily at him, wanting to deny it, but she couldn’t. The words wouldn’t come, because they were a lie. She did care. She still cared about Lee Adama. She’d never stopped.
“It sounds like you’ve come a long way since I saw you last, Kara. Just think about it, Kara. Less than a month ago, the two of you were so angry and so overwhelmed that you couldn’t talk to each other. And now you’re saving each other’s lives. If that’s not change, if that’s not healing, I don’t know what is.”
Kara stared intently at the floor. It was change. She just didn’t know where the hell it was going next, if it was going anywhere at all. When she didn’t say anything else, Stoffa started to clear up the piles of stuff drifting around the room. “Sorry it’s such a mess in here.”
The doc gathered up the books on the table and started packing them into his bag. “I am, but you know you can always get in touch with me.” Stoffa rummaged for a second before pulling out a worn business card. What used to be an address and number on Leonis was scratched out. In its place was his room on the Inchon Velle. “Keep that on you. Just in case.”
Kara shoved the paper into her pocket. “These things take time,” she muttered.
“Exactly,” he said.
Consciousness filtered back to Lee through a haze. The bright fog slowly cleared from a white blur to the fluorescent-lighted sickbay. He’d come to a few times before but not for more than a moment before slipping back into the darkness. This time, consciousness seemed to stick.
Lee pushed himself up to sit and a bolt of pain struck him in the side. That’s right. He’d been shot. The memory rushed back as he allowed himself to lie back down. He hadn’t hesitated to run into the line of fire when he saw Kara, weaponless, on the battlefield. His body had moved on instinct.
Lee remembered the way she had screamed when he grabbed onto her, the way she fought against him with eyes glazed over. It dawned on him what Kat and Sharon had meant when they said it looked like she had been somewhere else entirely. Kara’d looked like she had been stuck in some kind of living nightmare. Whatever had happened to her on New Caprica it was still haunting her.
He’d known that for quite some time now, but it wasn’t until he saw her standing frozen in the line of fire that he truly understood.
Staring up at the ceiling, Lee wondered what had gone on down on that planet. It wasn’t the first time he’d thought about it, but now it was accompanied by a dark, gnawing feeling that left him more uncomfortable than the pain. His thoughts were cut short by the sound of someone pulling the curtain back. Lee looked up to see Kara stepping up to the side of his bed with Seph perched on her hip. He couldn’t help but smile at the two of them.
“Hey,” Kara said, with a small smile.
“Hey,” he replied. He couldn’t believe how good it was to see her alert and… herself.
“I brought a visitor.” Kara shifted Seph from her hip and settled her against Lee’s uninjured side. She stood back, watching the two of them with a strange expression on her face—one Lee didn’t know how to interpret. He almost asked her, but a small wriggling bundle of five-month-old was vying for his attention.
“Hey, Seph,” he said, draping one arm around his little girl.
“Bu gee da,” Seph said emphatically.
“Is that so?”
Seph babbled a few more nonsense sounds, until she became curious about the bandages on Lee’s ribs. Her small hand reached out for them, but Kara caught it before she managed to touch him.
“Seph, no.” Kara held onto Seph’s hand. “Your dad’s hurt. We’ve got to let him rest and no touching.”
“It’s all right, Kara. I’ve got her. She’s fine.”
Kara moved to step back again, but Seph caught hold of Kara’s finger and seemed intent not to let go.
“She’s got a grip on her, huh?” Lee smiled, looking up at Kara.
“Yeah, sometimes she just doesn’t know when to let go.”
Kara sat down on the edge of the bed and stayed there as Seph continued to play with her hand. Kara’s gaze flicked to the bandages and back up to meet Lee’s eyes. “How’s the pain?”
“It’s okay. Better now,” he said.
“Cottle give you the good stuff?”
“What about you? How are you doing after… back there?”
Kara stiffened, and he knew he’d gotten his intention across. “I’m okay…” she said.
The conversation lulled again. It seemed they couldn’t speak in anything other than starts and stops anymore. There were too many things to say, too many questions to ask, and no place to start.
“Thank you.” Kara’s voice was low and soft and… sincere. “For saving me back there.”
Lee frowned, thinking again how he’d moved without thought—just the innate knowledge that he couldn’t let anything happen to Kara. “Yeah, well, you’ve saved me enough. I’m pretty sure I’ve got a debt that needs paying off.”
She let out a laugh. “And you’re admitting it? Lords, he really does have you on the good stuff.”
“I mean it,” he said.
Tentative silence hung between them, but only for an instant until Kara’s hand reached out and closed over Lee’s. For a few minutes, they just sat there. Seph holding Kara’s hand, Kara holding his. For a moment, Lee thought that they were seemed like a family.
He didn’t know how long the moment lasted, but before he knew it Seph was drooling ever so slightly on his chest. Kara drew her hand from Lee’s to wipe it away. “Were you a drooler, Apollo? Because she doesn’t get that from me.”
“I’m not sure, but she’s definitely got your mouth. There are times I’m afraid she’ll wake the entire fleet up when she cries.”
Kara frowned, her fingers brushing over the fine blonde hairs on their daughter’s head. A distant look in her eye told Lee she was getting lost in her thoughts. There was so much he didn’t know, so much he needed to know, but he felt too tired to ask.
“I should probably get the nugget into bed, it’s late,” she said.
Lee watched Kara scoop the baby into her arms. “Where is she going to stay? You can’t have her sleeping in a room with the rest of the squadron.”
Kara shifted hesitantly, running her hand over Seph’s back as she held her to her chest. “I talked to the Old Man… he said I should stay in your quarters with her. Just until you’re back on your feet. But he said he’d take her if you didn’t want—”
“No. You stay with her,” Lee said with a conviction he hadn’t known he had. After being raised in a house with a drunk mother and an absent father and a brother he had to parent, Lee didn’t want anything but the most stable life they could possibly make for her. “I don’t want my daughter being bounced around from person to person and place to place. I want her to have a family and a home.”
Kara stared at him with an unreadable expression on her face. Concern? Surprise? He couldn’t tell. But she nodded and muttered, “Yeah.” She gave him a small smile. “You just focus on getting better, because the single parent thing kinda sucks.”
“So say we all.”
Lee’s quarters were surprisingly less clean than Kara had expected—then again, her quarters hadn’t been so neat either when she was taking care of the nugget all on her own. She still had this image in her head of Lee, the perfect soldier with pressed uniform and not a button out of place. She’d learned time and again how wrong that image was, but sometimes she still managed to be surprised by how far off the mark she was.
Seph dozed off the moment Kara settled her into her crib. Kara stepped back and saw that Lee had placed one of her paintings on the wall just above Seph’s bed. Kara felt warmth spreading in her chest. The painting wasn’t anything particularly beautiful or striking, just another variation on her typical pattern of concentric circles. But still, Lee had placed it on his wall. Was it for Seph’s sake, she wondered, to have a piece of her mother with her?
Kara toed off her boots and stretched out on Lee’s rack, suddenly aware of just how exhausted the events of the last thirty-six hours had left her. Fatigue drew her eyelids closed and she quickly drifted off into a dreamless sleep.
Several hours later, Kara was awoken by a hungry cry. It had been a long time since she’d had her sleep disrupted by a crying child. That was one thing about being a mother that she did not miss. Kara swung her legs over the side of the bed and shuffled over to the crib. “Shhh. Come on, nugget,” she said, lifting Seph from the crib. The little girl wailed and wriggled, and there would be no shutting her up until she had a full belly. It took Kara a moment, rooting around through Lee’s drawers that there were no more bottles. Lee had switched over to feeding Seph solid food—or rather mashed up algae.
She brushed aside the strange feeling of sadness and opened up a jar of the green mush. “You actually eat this stuff?”
Seph sobbed. Kara briefly thought she might feel the same way if that’s what she had to eat. Kara propped Seph up to sit and dug the spoon into the slop. It took her a while to get Seph to stop squirming and eat but as soon as she had some food in her, she started to settle down.
Just as mealtime was winding to a close, there was a knock at the hatch. “Yeah? It’s open,” Kara called over her shoulder, wiping algae ooze away from Seph’s cheek.
The hatch swung open and over her shoulder, Kara could see Helo stepping through the threshold with someone Kara had never seen before but knew exactly who it was._ Sure, pretty much the whole frakking ship knew how Karl had shot his cylon wife so she could resurrect and get their child back, but she hadn’t been able to see it with her own eyes until just then.
Helo had his daughter perched high on his hip and a big dopey grin on his face. “Hey, Buck,” he said. He took a quick glance around the room. “Dinner time? Isn’t it a little late?”
“Kids eat when they eat.” Kara shrugged and nodded towards the infant in his arm. “Guess you’ll figure that out soon enough.”
Karl beamed. “Kara, this is Hera. Hera, say hi to Auntie Kara.” Hera did not wave hello, instead she shied away into Karl’s arms. “She’s just getting used to people,” he apologized. “The Cylons have had her since New Caprica. I can’t imagine what happened to her on that baseship.”
“Where was she before that?” Kara asked.
“She was being raised by a civilian woman. Reports are that she died during the evacuation of the planet.”
Kara nodded stiffly. Frakking toasters and their frakking obsession with popping out kids. She wondered briefly how many other babies they’d managed to get their hands on, how many had been born in the Farms on the Colonies. Almost instinctively, Kara scooped Seph up into her arms. Karl seemed to notice that something had changed with her and quickly changed the topic. “Didn’t mean to interrupt, I just—”
“Wanted to show off the offspring?” Kara teased, trying to shake herself out of it. “The Proud Papa thing looks good on you, Karl.”
“Yeah well motherhood doesn’t look so shabby on you either, Starbuck.”
Kara looked from Seph to Karl to Hera. “Lords. Who would have thought we’d end up like this back in boot camp—Private Agathon has himself a girl on every colony,” she said, a wry grin curving her lip.
“Like you weren’t frakking anything with two legs,” he laughed. “Gods and you hated kids.”
“All they do is eat, shit, and cry.” She tapped Seph affectionately on the nose. Seph let out a happy giggle and grabbed on to Kara’s finger. “And somehow they end up being the future of humanity if you don’t frak them up too badly.”
“Can you imagine?” Karl shook his head. “These two are going to drive us insane when they get older. Playing hide-and-go-seek on the hangar deck, ring around the raptor.”
They talked for almost half an hour, with Hera nodding off against Karl’s shoulder, about the kinds of trouble their kids were going to get into. “Gods, you should see the way Sharon’s acting already. She’s so overprotective of her, that she—”
Karl went on, but Kara barely registered anything she said. A strange pang of jealousy hit her straight in the gut as he started talking about their family. Kara looked down at Seph, who was starting to fall asleep again in her arms. Some frakked up family she was going to have.
“You okay?” he asked, drawing her out of her thoughts.
“Yeah, just tired. This one woke me up.” She nodded to the sleepy infant. “But it looks like she’s dozing off.”
“Right, I should probably get going anyways.”
“Night,” she said, turning to settle Seph into her crib.
As she tucked Seph under her blanket, she heard Karl’s hesitant voice behind her. “That’s your painting isn’t it?”
Kara turned around, eyebrow arched at the strange look on his face. “Yeah. So what?”
He shifted his hold on Hera, holding her closer. “Is that the same symbol that you painted on the wall in your apartment?”
Kara nodded slowly. Karl’s face shifted from confusion to concern. “Kara…” he said softly. “That design was on the Temple. Where did you get the idea to paint yours?”
“I don't know. It was just something I've been doodling since I was a kid, I liked the pattern.” Kara stepped towards Helo, arms folded across her chest. Her stomach was tying itself into a knot.
“Well, they built the Temple four thousand years ago.”
You have a destiny, Kara Thrace. Leoben’s voice echoed in her head. The room suddenly seemed to be empty of oxygen, but she was the only one who seemed to notice.
“What is it?” he asked, brow furrowed.
“Just… something Leoben said to me once…That I have a destiny. That it’s already been written.”
Karl reached out to her but she instinctively drew back.
“Are you going to be all right?”
Kara shrugged. “Yeah, fine. Just tired,” she said a little too fast. “Looks like that one is too.” She nodded to Hera.
She didn’t hear whatever Karl told her right before he left; her head was too full of noise and sound.
He was right.
Leoben was right.
She felt the sudden need to vomit. Kara’s skin crawled with the thought. Something did not add up in this equation. Leoben’s insane rants still rattled her, but they were lies and half-truths and other bullshit he’d come up with the frak with her head—and she was dealing with that. But if it was true… if he was right…
Kara had been drawing that symbol since the first time she picked up a crayon—a four thousand year old symbol that was found on the path to Earth…
She turned, staring at the painting on the wall. Each color, stark against the background, glared at her. The circles seemed to spin and collapse on each other, hypnotizing her and drawing her in.
Squeezing her eyes closed, she tried to shut out the racing thoughts. When she opened them again, gaze now fixed on Seph’s crib, one memory yelled out from the din.
”You’re destined for greater things, and that child only would’ve held you back. I did what I had to do, for your sake.”
--To Be Continued—