Running solved everything.
Or at least, exercise did. Exercise had always been an outlet for Kara Thrace, from her early memories as a child. It had started with the endless games of chase as a youngster, and graduated to organized sports when she hit grade school. The Adamas had always included her in family trips, and some of her favorite memories were bucking through the warm waters of the Caprican oceans, moving like the water creatures below.
When she hit secondary school and then the Academy, the campus pool had become her refuge. The water had become as addictive as a drug, countless hours lost in lap after lap of exercise. The water had served as a block between her and the rest of the world, a physical barrier that she cut through with just her arms and her legs. That left her brain free to puzzle out whatever internal debates that had been raging inside of her. Inevitably, whatever had been bothering her when she entered the pool had, either through mental or physical exhaustion, reached a conclusion when she exited the water.
It was like physical withdrawal when she had first been stationed on board the Galactica. Her body spent its free hours screaming for release, and her brain began to lock up over the simple tasks being a fleet pilot demanded. When the nightmares of Zak's accident began to intrude on a nightly basis, she knew she had to find a release, or she would go not-so-quietly crazy.
That was when she'd visited the commisary and demanded a pair of running shoes. Distance running had never been her thing at the Academy - there was something about pushing yourself to the point of quivering muscles and puking that screamed "frakking insanity" to her. But she needed something, dammit. Running was her next best option. And as it turned out, it cleared her mind almost as well as swimming laps did.
It had taken only a few days since the attacks for her to become stir crazy. Everyone's schedules had been blown, no pun intended, to hell and gone. Half the flight crew was gone, the ship was now running military combat conditions all hours of the day, and no one really had a clue what was coming next. As it had her entire life, exercise became her refuge, and she resumed running. By rule -- and the incident with an unsuspecting cadet in her first month on board -- she ran alone. No exceptions.
That was, until Lee Adama showed up in military exercise greens and running shoes her first morning back to the drill. He hadn't said a word, and neither had she. He'd just dropped into step behind her, and steadily kept up the pace.
He made a perfect exercise partner. He didn't slow her down, he didn't rush ahead and best of all, he didn't talk. They just pounded the decks together in a steady rhythm, one normally a half-step behind the other, speaking only when they needed to clear the way ahead of them.
His presence was calming, and comforting. As much as Starbuck hated to admit it, she'd needed to know Lee was on her side. There'd been a hell of a lot to happen in a very short time and a hell of a lot of fallout. Frankly, when she'd climbed into the Viper for that recon mission, she'd half-expected not to make it back. Well, okay, maybe only quarter-expected. In any case, she'd had her doubts.
Which made telling Lee about Zak that much easier. Now, granted, if he'd kept up this shit with his father a lot longer, she would've told him regardless and to hell with the consequences. But the timing had just seemed right for her to, as she had put it, confess her sins.
In the aftermath, she'd wondered just how Lee would take it. Deep down, she was scared she'd be in for the same treatment he'd given his father, even if the two of them had just a fraction of the acrimonious history Lee and Adama did. She had worried about losing his friendship, but more importantly, dooming the effort that really counted: getting Lee and his father back on the same page.
So far, things were fine between her and Lee. He hadn't said a word, but that was fine. Sooner or later, they'd probably need to talk about it. But him falling out with her each morning indicated he wasn't holding a grudge. Of course, he wasn't saying much about his father, either. Or to him, as far as she could tell. His calm acceptance of the situation as it was threatened to infuriate her every frakking morning.
Because every morning, they hit the same obstacle at pretty much the same spot on the deck. Starbuck looked up to see an older man, his spectacled eyes locked on a flimsy, walking the hall in front of them.
"Good morning, sir!" She kept the cheer in her voice and the bounce in her step, but slowed down to the commander's walking pace. Lee followed suit.
"Morning, Starbuck … Captain." The elder Adama was smiling, but Starbuck picked up on the awkward silence between father and son. She felt the familiar rush of irritation with the two of them as Lee nodded back at his father in greeting, but said nothing. The two couldn't even get past formalities in a simple, stupid encounter on a morning run.
"Well, whaddya hear, Starbuck?" She was so busy being irritated with the two that she almost missed the prompt. She forced herself to smile, and keep up the normal patter.
"Nothin' but the rain, sir."
"Then grab your gun and bring in the cat." Adama cracked a grin and turned down a side hall, his attention back on the flimsies. Starbuck started to give the normal "boom, boom, boom" when she noticed Lee at a standstill a step or two behind her, staring at his father's disappearing form.
Her curiosity had almost prompted the inevitable question when Lee finally shook his head.
"What's that all about?" Lee had a confused look on his face, but Starbuck had a pretty strong suspicion it was more than just the morning exchange that was bothering him. The abrupt rush of irritation she'd felt earlier flared up again, and she gave him her trademark smirk.
"You've watched it for 10 days and you're just asking now?" She bit back a few more choice words, and settled for a barb instead. "Why don't you just ask your father? She leveled a look on Lee that clearly communicated the challenge she'd just issued.
Lee stared at her for a long minute, and then took a deep breath. His face screwed up with irritation, and Starbuck caught the sincere anger growing beneath it.
"I'm not having this discussion." Before she could say a word, Lee set off at a slow jog. After a moment, she set off after him, using her own irritation for an adrenaline rush.
"You know, the first cup of caff isn't going to make it any better." She tried to keep a light-hearted tone in her voice, aiming for the joke. The problem was, she was getting right and truly pissed off and he knew it.
"Shut up, Kara." Lee's voice left no room for argument. If she pursued this any further, she'd start an honest fight and that was the last thing she really wanted right now. She rolled her eyes and shut her mouth, biting back a retort involving his parentage and good manners.
Why were the Adama men so good at this? It drove her to frustration that Lee and his father -- never great communicators to begin with -- had gone two years without saying a word. She knew Lee had been too angry to try to talk to his father, and that the blame and guilt involved kept Adama from reaching out to his son. Of course, when forced into that encounter at the decommisioning, the two had promptly stalked off in their respective directions after what Kara could only assume had been one hell of a fight.
Now, just ten days -- though a lifetime -- later, there was absolutely no hint of a problem. Watching them work together, she could tell the tensions between them had been stepped down. In fact, they were more than just stepped down. They were working so well together, it was scary. The two seemed to almost be able to read each other's thoughts at times. She could already tell that the work relationship between the two of them was going to be a tremendous asset.
But personally ... that was another matter entirely. There was absolutely no evidence whatsoever that the two were interacting anywhere BUT in CIC. Lee was keeping to himself on his off hours, either spending all of his time alone in his office or in the exercise area. And his father wasn't being much better. For a man known for being familial with his crew, the man had no idea how to deal with his son.
To say the crew, and the squadron in particular, had no idea what to make of the situation was the understatement of the frakking solar year. The rumors were flying fast and furious, and there were no indications any answers were coming anytime soon.
She almost wished they'd hit each other. A good, old-fashioned knock-down, all-out brawl sometimes worked wonders. Especially with the Adama men.
Or not. She wasn't sure she wanted to be anywhere near those two if they ever exploded at each other like that. She'd seen it happen exactly once in her lifetime -- after Zak's funeral. If it happened a second time, she would put money on the fact she wouldn't want to pick up the pieces.
She picked up the pace and got a good few feet in front of Lee. Something in her body language must have warned him to back off, or maybe he didn't want to deal with her, either. In any case, she found herself half a corrider's length in front of him in no time.
She hissed her breath out through her teeth. This whole damned mess had gone too damned far, and it needed to end. And like she had for the last two years, she couldn't come up with a damned thought to save her life on how to fix the situation.
She looked back over her shoulder, and found Lee lagging even further behind. She could tell by the look on his face that his mood was no better than hers. So much for the mind-clearing nature of a morning run. She ground her teeth and headed down a side corrider for the showers, her comfortable, relaxed mood definitely gone.
It took just a minute to reach the hatch she was looking for. With a hiss of effort, she slung the door open to the communal bathroom, and wove her way through the crush of bodies to a miraculously unoccupied wash stall. The only thing she hated worse than a fleet shower was waiting for one.
She had to admit, she'd been spoiled by the facilities at the Academy. She got to spend as much of her free time as she wanted in the pool, swimming lap after lap in the blessedly cool silence. The water wrapped its way around her and cleared her mind, leaving it open for the kind of internal debate that she thrived on. When the laps were finished, she could stand in the shower as long as she wanted, letting the hot water gradually warm her now-mildly hypothermic body back to normal. It also gave her time to file her one-person discussion and decide what to keep and what to discard.
Fleet showers were a rude awakening. As she wedged herself into the cubicle, an automatic timer gave her exactly one minute of water. It was just enough for her to minimally soak her hair and get her skin wet enough to wash. She could stand in the shower and lather as long as she wanted, but then she's freeze her ass off. And she only got a minute's worth of water to rinse off again. It was the reason she kept her hair short. It was the only way to keep it clean. How Sharon and Duella managed, she'd never know.
It wasn't being clean that was the problem today, though. She missed the hot rush of water and the chance to collect her thoughts, and she desperately needed that release today. The Adamas were going to drive her crazy if she didn't come to some sense of balance with the two of them. Hell, it wasn't even her sense of balance she needed to worry about.
It was theirs.