He pushes her against the door of the bunkroom so hard it jars him a little, and his lips on hers aren't gentle at all, and this isn't how he thought this would be, their first kisses. The only thing that makes it all right, and more than all right, is that she's straining against him, and that her lips part immediately against his tongue, and that she makes a mewling noise in her throat when he pulls back.

"Don't stop," Kara says, and Lee, who is all out of resistance, does not.

xxx

Four Vipers go out. Three come back.

"This is getting to be a habit," his father says, and he smiles, because he's the CAG, and that's what you do, you have more faith in your pilots than they have in themselves, at least where other people can see you.

The new pilots Starbuck took out on the long range patrol babble incoherently over the radio until they get them sorted out, and then they all tell the same story, of the Cylon patrol they stumbled over on the dark side of the planet's second moon, bad luck. Starbuck shot down four of the six, and the new kids split the other two between them.

Then: "I'm hit," she said, calmly. The pilots watched a long plume of something trail into space. Fuel, they thought. Without fuel, there's no movement or heat and your backup oxygen goes out. A Viper with an empty tank is frightening to everyone who's ever been in one.

"Get out of the radio shadow, nuggets. Call it in," Starbuck said.

The three of them didn't move. They're too new to have the knee-jerk response to orders.

"Get out of here," Starbuck yelled. "My orbit's decaying, numbnuts! Would you let them know already?"

Two of the Vipers took off. The third, the girl nicknamed Cat, hesitated.

"Should I stay, Lieutenant?"

"And do what, Cat? Watch my death spiral?"

Cat left, then, because by this point she knew her flight instructor well enough that when you really needed to worry was when Starbuck was flat-out hilarious, and since that wasn't really very funny at all, she knew everything was going to be okay.

"No, sir. See you back on the ship."

And Cat punched it to catch up with her wing mates, who were almost in radio range when she found them. They called it in, a recovery crew was launched, and the nuggets flew back to the moon to keep Starbuck company until it arrived.

She wasn't there. They made one pass: two. Three.

Nothing.

Cat took a fourth pass before admitting that Starbuck had vanished, and the three Vipers hovered uncertainly before heading back into radio range to get new orders. It had been almost four hours since they left Starbuck, and they were low enough on fuel that either they turned around soon to refuel or they'd be needing recovery, too.

They left. Cat tried not to feel like she was abandoning her instructor.

They almost bumped into Boomer's Raptor as they peeled around the moon.

"Frack," Boomer came over their headsets. "What the—Where's Starbuck?"

"She's gone, sir," Cat said. She felt like crying, and from the tiny nuances of flight she was beginning to be able to pick up, she suspected that Hot Dog, at least, felt the same.

"We came back and she was gone, sir," Hot Dog said. "We did four passes, but..."

"Let's go," Boomer said, and Cat slumped in her seat with the relief of having someone to follow again.

The three Vipers and the Raptor split the area into a grid and ran section-by-section searches for almost an hour before Boomer's laughter came over the radio.

"Damn you, Starbuck."

There was no up or down in space, but Starbuck's orbit had decayed enough that she had slid down the moon into the black pocket just before the sunward side. They went down to pick her up, and she held up her radio lead, shaking her head.

"Must have gone out in the fight," Boomer said.

"We were in radio contact before, sir," Cat said.

"The Chief will check it out," Boomer said, a little irritated. Cat was close to bingo fuel, so she shut up.

They brought Kara aboard the Raptor, and although she was blue and shivering and developing a mild case of frostbite in her toes, she was okay. They sped off back to the Galactica and called in a salvage crew to pick up the drifting Viper.

xxx

Lee met them on the hangar deck, and the first thing Kara said to him was: "Not now, Apollo. I need to take a shower and defrost before I start losing extremities."

Lee said that he needed to debrief her, and Kara replied that he could join her in the shower if he wanted, and Lee ducked his head and tried not to blush, and Kara, who knew with precision how she was fucking with him, took off.

He might have let it go if Tigh hadn't expressed an urgent desire to find out what the frack Starbuck was doing out of radio range anyway, and it was the CAG's job to find out, but if he wasn't man enough to stand up to Thrace—

"I'll go ask her," Lee said.

xxx

He waits outside the head for her, and when the door starts to open, he holds out a robe and a towel, and lets her pick whichever she wants.

"Worried I was going to escape, Apollo?"

"Something like that," he says, and turns his back until she shrugs into the robe and pads away to the bunkroom.

"You're so proper," Kara says, mocking him gently. "We live in close quarters- you don't think every man in this squadron has seen me naked?"

She looks closely at him and laughs.

"Are you blushing?" She says, rubbing her hair dry with the towel. "Lee Adama, you're a spinster," she says. "Get yourself a cat already."

"I'm pretty sure all the cats are dead," Lee manages, and it's the best he can do, because when Kara is in this mood, he sort of wants to grab her and fuck her and show her what happens when you tease a man too far too often, and that's probably not appropriate.

"No cats, huh? Maybe you need some alone time with a girl," she drawls, and trails a finger along the shoulders of his flight suit, like she sometimes does when she's having an especially good time pushing his buttons.

"Kara—"

"One of the Mercer sisters, from Maintenance, maybe?" She pouts suggestively at him. "I bet you could get both at the same time, if you wanted… does that sound like fun?"

"Kara."

She ignores the warning, and now Lee is a little worried for her, because when she pushes hard, she wants you to push back, and that means that something's wrong.

"You know, you and I—"

She stops, and rubs two fingers along his jaw line.

"Kara," he snaps, and grabs her wrist. "Stop it. Do I usually fall for this?"

"No," she shrugs, unfazed, "but a girl can always hope."

Lee feels himself flush, again, and the look he gives her borders on desperation.

"Stop it," he orders, although it sounds a lot more like a request. "I know you're tired, and I know you've been through the shit, but I need to debrief you, and I need to debrief you now. Get it together, Lieutenant."

That's better, that sounds more like it, and Kara straightens.

"I—" she looks up at him through her lashes, and then there's the merest hint of tears, and her free hand is sliding is sliding around his neck, he seems to be pulling her against him, and her head is resting on his shoulders, and he half-hears, half-feels her choked-off sob.

"Oh," Lee says. They don't touch a lot. This is.

This is too much. He can feel her pressed against him, soft and curved where he's hard and angled, her breasts pushing against his chest, her fingers just barely moving against the base of his skull, and he shudders.

"Kara," he says, but she looks up and shakes her head.

"No, Lee," she says. "I… can we just…"

She looks terrified, and this is something he has seen so rarely on her face that he's stunned into immobility when she presses a careful kiss on his lips.

"Kara," he says, heavily, "we shouldn't—"

"I was so scared," she snaps. "And alone. And, frack, Lee. Could you just—I was scared."

She kisses him again, and her lips part a little, and Lee hears a noise midway between a sob and a whimper, and he realizes that it's him, Gods, it's him, this isn't right, this isn't right, and then Kara's tongue is gently sliding against his lips, and Lee gathers the strength he has and pushes her away.

Kara stumbles back against the bulkhead, and the look she gives him isn't mocking and sarcastic and hard flashing light, it's that of someone who reached out and was rebuffed, and Lee says, "I'm sorry. I'm sorry, Kara."

"Frack you," Kara says, and her eyes snap, and she pushes a hand against his groin, and he feels a flare of heat through the heavy material of the flight suit, and he was already half-hard, and Kara says, not-quite-mocking, "I know you want me," and then somehow Lee goes fracking insane and dips his head and slides his hands up her arms to her shoulders to her neck to the cradle of her skull and he kisses her deep and not soft, and now he is fully hard against her hand, and Kara is panting into his mouth.

He has a tiny bit of sanity left, and this is wrong in one, two, three… he counts sixteen ways in which this is wrong, and could surely come up with more, given an hour or two. He pulls back.

"We can't," he says, and if only Kara would have mirrored his look of regret, they would not have, and almost nothing would have changed.

"But I want to," she says. "I want you. Lee."

Her voice is a sigh on his name, and Lee trembles and gives in.

He pushes her against the door of the bunkroom so hard it jars him a little, and his lips on hers aren't gentle at all, and this isn't how he thought this would be, their first kisses. The only thing that makes it all right, and more than all right, is that she's straining against him, and that her lips part immediately against his tongue, and that she makes a mewling noise in her throat when he pulls back.

"Don't stop," Kara says, and Lee, who is all out of resistance, does not.

She is keening and pressing against him, and when Lee tries to slide the robe off her shoulders, she pulls him against her sharply, and when he pushes her back onto a narrow bunk and tries to move down her body to the secret place between her legs, she pulls at his shoulders.

"I can't wait," she says, and her voice is so desperate that Lee's breath catches, and, in spite of himself, he comes back up and pushes against her, and their bodies click into place just so- snick, he can hear it. Kara's hands tremble on his shoulders, and Lee, who is still fully clothed, shoves the robe open enough to cup a breast that fits into his hand like his hand was made for that and nothing else.

Kara makes a noise that sounds almost like shock when he flicks a thumb over the hardened nipple, and Lee can't stop, can't stop, can't stop, and he thrusts against her and bites her neck hard enough to leave a mark that's already turning purple when he pulls back.

She whimpers and trembles and thrusts back at him, and then her hands are gone from his shoulders, and Kara says, sibilantly, "Yes. Yes." And he looks at her almost in surprise because these are not the sounds he thought she would make. He thought maybe she would say things like "Roll over" or "Not there". He didn't know she was like this.

And he didn't know he was like this, either. He's a polite and careful lover: he makes sure his women are ready, and he doesn't lose control. Now he has her wrists pinned to the bunk with one hand, and the other is pulling her knee up to his waist so he fits just there, and- oh.

Lee shivers, and his head sinks into the hollow of her throat. He has one last remnant of chivalry, and he looks at her desperately.

"Are you—are you sure? This is what you want?"

There is no mocking in her face, and that makes her more naked than naked to him. He shudders again, and tries not to thrust against her violently.

"Yes, please, please, please…"

Her voice, begging, trails off. She has tears in her eyes, looking brightly into his own, not closing them, letting him see and feel and take as much as he wants.

Lee lets go of her leg long enough to fumble at the closure of his flight suit, and takes himself in hand, and then he's there, right there, where she's slick with want for him, and they're both shaking as he pushes inside inch by inch, and they're staring into each other's eyes and not making a sound.

And Lee thinks that this might be some kind of miracle. He has nothing else to think about it because this is the most un-cerebral moment of his life, a moment composed only of his heart exploding in him and Kara wrapped around him and him wrapped around her, and he can't qualify it as good, because it's something else entirely.

Kara arches her back the further he slides in, until the small of her back no longer touches the bunk, and he lets go of her knee to slide his hand into that space, and now he can think again, and the first thing he thinks is: mine.

Mine, mine, mine, and then he's thrusting in her, and his lips are on the curve of her arching throat, and once he manages to say, his voice breaking, "Beautiful," but he doesn't know if she hears him, because she's making noises that make him want to come right away, and he has to pay attention, because it's the most important thing in the universe that he makes Kara come, makes Kara clench and clench and spasm around him, makes Kara's body tighten like a bow as she lifts off the bed and wails in pain and release.

Lee says half a prayer because that's what's starting to happen, as he thrusts into her just right, and hits the spot that make her eyes snap open, and she tries to close them again, and Lee finds enough breath to say "No. Look at me." And she tries, although once or twice they slide shut, and it's so hot, so perfect, so good, that Lee already wants her again even though they're not done yet.

"Lee," Kara whimpers, and Lee can feel her eyes on him like sunlight. "Lee," she says again, and her voice is full of desperation, and Lee gives her what she wants, grinds against her in a way that makes her gasp and shiver, and then she's saying his name again, and arching her back more and more and more and she's coming and sweating and swearing, frack frack frack, Lee.

Lee thrusts into her, and she's still tight and sensitive with orgasm, and before she's done trembling, he's coming in her, long jagged strokes of pleasure so hot it hurts, and his breaths sound like sobs, and maybe they are.

He collapses on top of her. His flight suit is rough on her bare skin, and after a moment she shifts beneath him, and Lee is himself enough again to pull out and roll off. Kara makes a sweet sound when they separate, and Lee cups a hand over her, feeling her wetness and himself leaking out.

"Lee," she says, her eyes closed, skin flushed and damp. "Lee, Lee, Lee."

"I love you," he says, unthinking. Kara opens her eyes and her glance slides across his face, and now Lee feels like the naked one.

"Yeah?"

"Yeah," Lee says, pulling his hand away.

Kara traps his wrist and pulls his hand back to where it was.

"Lee," she says again, and there's affection there, at least.

And it's enough.

Lee exhales.

…fin…