Breaking Point
by Dana Martin

Disclaimer: Based upon characters and situations created by Glen Larson and Ron Moore, and the other staff writers of "Battlestar Galactica", past and present. I have no financial or legal claim for the use of these characters – I'm just bringing them out to play.

Setting: Several weeks after the events in season 1.
Certain assumptions have been made regarding early season 2 events, the details of which are beyond the scope of this fic.
- Kara, Helo, and Baltar have already returned to Galactica.
- Colonel Tigh has made a "deal" with President Roslin in order to restore order to the fleet. She has been restored to office.
- The deal included immunity from prosecution for both William and Lee Adama.
- Commander Adama has now physically recovered from the shooting, and is on the verge of resuming command.

Chapter 1

William Adama woke groggily. He almost slept right through the knocking on his door, but whoever was out there was being very persistent and eventually the pounding roused him from a deep sleep. He groaned and rolled into a sitting position. Checking the clock, he groaned again. 01:07 hours. No alert had been sounded through the ship and no one had called on the phone. It couldn't be an emergency then. It was just some bothersome, inconsiderate visitor arriving uninvited in the middle of the night, and that visitor was continuing to pound on the door.

"Just a minute!" he called out in a sleepy growl. Heaving himself to his feet, he shuffled wearily to the door, thinking, "You're getting old Husker. Once upon a time, you'd have been wide awake on a moment's notice and ready for action. Now it takes 20 minutes to get both your brain and your body in gear."

William had abandoned any pretense of modesty in the service many years ago, so he didn't bother to don a robe. Wearing only a loose pair of sweatpants and his grey undershirt, he reached for the handle on the hatch. "Who is it?" he called gruffly.

"It's Saul," a voice replied. "Bill, we need to talk."

That meant trouble of some sort, but it couldn't be Cylons or a problem with the fleet. Did Saul just have another spat with Ellen and need a couch to crash on? William spun the lock and yanked the hatch open to be greeted by the very grim face of his XO. "This better be important," he said. Without giving Colonel Tigh a chance to respond, he turned and shuffled back into his room. "I am going to be back on the job in just a few more hours, you know. Granted, I've been on medical leave for a long time and you're understandably anxious to hand over the reigns, but can't this possibly wait until morning?"

"'Fraid not," Saul said gruffly, pausing just inside the room to shut the hatch behind him.

"You do know what time it is?"

Ignoring the question, Saul told him, "Bill there's been an incident... with Lee."

William flinched as he stepped into his small bathroom. He shook his head, reaching for the faucet handle. "Gods," he grumbled. "How many passes does that boy think he's going to get?" He splashed water onto his face. "Whatever crisis you had to deal with, Saul... whatever deal you had to make with the President or the Quorum, you shouldn't have let Lee off so easily. It was mutiny, for crying out loud."

"He damn near single-handedly saved the ship Bill," Tigh said dourly. "We're all still breathing because of him. A little gratitude seemed appropriate."

"I know he's been invaluable to the ship these past few weeks, but apparently he now thinks he can get away with anything. Well, he's left us no choice. If he's crossed the line again we're going to have to throw the book at him this time...hard." He shut off the water and reached for a towel.

Saul stood ill at ease by the bathroom door. "This one's... different."

William dried his face. "So, what the frak has he done this time?" He hung the towel back in place and turned toward his XO.

Saul hesitated. "Maybe you should sit down," he suggested to his old friend.

William shook his head and strode from the bathroom into his office space. He faced Saul directly. "Just tell me what he's done," William said in darkly measured tones.

Tigh nodded and visibly steeled himself. "Lee..." The Colonel had to clear his throat. "He tried to kill himself."

At first, Saul's words didn't even register in William's mind. They were simply incomprehensible. He just stared at Saul in stunned silence.

Saul noted his old friend's frozen expression. He continued in as steady a voice as he could manage. "Apparently he removed the Red Needle from his Viper at some point... we don't know when. He might have been carrying it around for days... or even weeks. We don't really know. But about an hour ago, in quarters... he used it."

The change of expression crept onto William's face so gradually that it was impossible to note the actual progression, but as Saul continued talking, William's face soon bore the very image of stunned horror. The rest of his body remained utterly motionless. Paralyzed.

"Fortunately," Saul said, "Starbuck found him within just a few minutes and started CPR right away. The medics did manage to get a pulse back before they transported him to sickbay, but I'm afraid he's still critical right now."

The Red Needle. Every pilot was issued one of the small, bright red cylinders, about the size of a narrow pencil and only three inches long. The hollow safety cap was designed to only be snapped open with firm effort so that the sharp needle point inside could not be exposed by accident. It was supposed to remain tucked into that little compartment in the Viper beside the cockpit hatch release, only to be used as a last resort; only to be used in the case of likely imminent capture by the enemy, or if stranded without hope of rescue. It was an alternative to torture or a slow, painful death. It was quick, relatively painless, and lethal.

Lee had used his Red Needle.

William felt every nerve in his body turn ice cold. This couldn't be true. It was impossible. He wanted to ask Saul to tell him this was just some sick, tasteless joke. But, William knew better. Saul would never joke over something like this. The chill that had descended upon him made him begin to shiver. His legs began to feel suddenly unsteady. He broke eye contact with Saul and glanced around for the nearest place to sit. Saul stepped forward to offer a steady hand and directed William into a chair by the bed.

"Bill, are you all right?" Saul asked. As he watched the color drain from his old friend's face, Tigh was on the verge of reaching for the phone to call for a medical team. "Bill, say something now or I'm calling for the doctor."

"Is there any hope?" William whispered.

"They did get a pulse...," Tigh started to say.

"You already told me that."

"That's all I know Bill. You'll have to ask Major Cottle for anything more."

As William sat shivering his eyes fell upon a photograph that was perched on the end-table next to the chair. The smiling faces of his beautiful young wife and two little boys gazed back at him. William reached for the photograph and held it in trembling hands. Lee was so young, and so carefree. He stared at the face of his beautiful boy with the bright blue eyes, and the innocent happy smile.

Saul watched sadly as William's head dropped downward and he clutched the photograph to his chest. There was no sound of sobbing, but William's shoulders were shaking. Then he took a sudden gasping breath. Saul leaned down, squeezing William's shoulders. "They did get to him quickly Bill. He could very well pull through this."

William lifted his head and wiped the traces of tears from his face. He told Saul, "I talked to him... just yesterday. He was... tired, but I never thought... Gods, why didn't I see it? He stood right here, and I didn't..."

"Don't do that Bill," Saul counseled him. "Don't start blaming yourself. Nobody saw this coming. That kid's always had a knack for putting up a tough front."

"He's my son." William looked at the photograph again. "My... little... boy. I should know him better than that." William cleared his throat and set the picture aside. He pushed himself abruptly to his feet and grabbed for the closet door.

"Bill slow down," Saul urged him. "You're healed, but you're not back up to full strength yet."

"Maybe not," William conceded, grabbing a sweatshirt off of a shelf. "But I have to get going. My boy just tried to commit suicide. I have to find out if he succeeded."

Commander William Adama found his way to sickbay almost by instinct. He had spent a lot of time there recently, recovering from his own brush with death. When he'd been released to complete his recovery in his own quarters, it had been his intention not to set foot in sickbay again for a very long time. But now he was back, and returning under circumstances worse than any he could have imagined.

As he turned a corner in the hallway and sickbay came into view, William saw Kara Thrace pacing anxiously outside the door. She was visibly distraught and so focused upon her anguish that she didn't even see the commander until he was practically standing right beside her. She looked up at him with a slight start. The look on her face frightened him.

"Lee," he whispered. "Is he...?" He couldn't quite manage to voice the question.

"They're still working on him," Kara replied in a shaky voice.

"How is he doing?" William asked, relieved to hear that at least his son was still alive.

"I uh... I'm not sure," she answered. "They won't tell me much. They just keep rushing around and, um... they won't let me see him yet."

William offered her a meager smile and squeezed her shoulder, then stepped past her into sickbay. It was mostly quiet, with the majority of patients trying to sleep through the late night hours. The commander's attention was drawn toward a station about half-way down the line of beds where a curtained partition was drawn closed for privacy. There were voices chattering away anxiously inside the partition. William knew instinctively that was where Lee was. He stood staring at the curtain, seeing it move and shift from air currents generated by the people moving around on the other side. He contemplated walking over there and taking a look inside, and suddenly found his feet in motion. He knew the medics wouldn't want him there. He knew they would tell him he was in the way and would ask him to wait outside with Kara. He didn't care. He was going to see his son.

Before he even got close enough to reach for the curtain, someone yanked it partway open from the inside. A nurse strode out, heading for the medicine locker. She had left the curtain open slightly, and William was able to partially see his son. His feet halted and he stood frozen in place, staring. There were tubes and monitor wires everywhere. Lee's face was partially obscured from view by the ventilator tube that was taped in place over his mouth, and Adama knew that the tube extended down Lee's throat into his windpipe. Lee wasn't breathing on his own. As frightening as that realization was, what shocked William the most was how ghostly pale Lee was. His boy was damn near as white as the bed sheets.

One of the nurses caught sight of the commander watching them. He said something to Dr. Cottle who quickly stepped over and pulled the curtain shut. The other nurse returned from the medicine locker with a vial in her hand and locked eyes with the commander.

"Please," he asked her, "how is he doing?"

"We're doing all we can," she answered, sidestepping the real question. "I'll let the doctor know you're here," she said, and slipped back inside the curtain, carefully pulling it completely closed.

William stood in place, as if he could still see the image of his son lying still and pale before him. He heard the voices of the medics, but none of their words registered in his brain. After several minutes of haunted immobility, William turned and walked slowly toward the door.

Kara was still pacing in the hallway. She looked up at the commander with a brief flash of hope that quickly faded as it became apparent that there was no news. "Still can't see him?" she asked, though she already knew the answer.

William didn't bother trying to answer. He leaned against the corridor wall. "Colonel Tigh told me that you were the one who found him," the commander said quietly.

Kara gave a curt nod. "Yeah." She stopped pacing and crossed her arms over her chest. "And, um... I was with him... right before it happened."

William regarded her carefully. "You were with him?"

She nodded again. Her face was calm, but there was a slight tremble to her voice. "Well... we all were. The whole squadron. We wanted to uh... welcome him back. You know? A kind of a de-motion party, what with him getting bounced down from acting-XO back to CAG, now that you're back in command again." Kara cleared her throat and ran her hands through her short blonde hair.

"I sort of... bullied him into it," she laughed nervously. "I met up with him as he was leaving CIC at the end of his shift."

"Hey Apollo," Kara called out, falling into step beside him. "Now that you're officially demoted back to CAG, I thought you might like to go slumming this evening and reacquaint yourself with your pilots."

Lee offered her a sideways glace. "It's not like I've been TDY for six months Lieutenant."

So, Lee was still calling her "Lieutenant." Kara was determined to break him of that habit, quickly. It had been going on for far too long. "Really? You seem to have completely forgotten my first name."

"Nothing is forgotten... Lieutenant."

"Fine, you're still pissed at me, but that's no reason to give the rest of the squadron the cold shoulder."

"Management of the squadron has been your job for the last 4 weeks. If they're feeling neglected maybe you should reexamine your own interpersonal skills Lieutenant."

"He was... a little reluctant at first," Kara told the commander. "He just didn't seem much in the mood for a party. So I... pushed him a little."

Kara stepped right into Lee's path and blocked his way. "Okay enough! I didn't come by here to pick a fight Lee."

"Captain," he corrected her.

"Lee," she stubbornly persisted, "you and I need to talk. We have been through too frakking much to just..."

"We're not friends," he interrupted, in a cold, quiet voice. "As far you're concerned, I'm just the CAG."

"Shit, Lee... that was 6 weeks ago! Look we both acted like asses, okay? And I know you've been stressed beyond reason ever since then, but your Dad is going to be back on the job tomorrow morning. Things are starting to get back to normal now. Can't we..."

"There is no 'we'. Remember?" He stepped around her and kept walking.

"I had to uh, push him pretty hard, actually," Kara admitted to the commander.

Kara stepped right back into Lee's path, pulled back a fist, and punched him across the jaw. Lee was thrown back a few steps before he caught his balance. "Go ahead," Kara urged him. "Hit me back. Don't tell me you don't want to. You've wanted to smack me for the last 4 weeks now, since the moment I got back from Caprica. You think I couldn't tell? Go ahead. I just gave you fair reason, so hit me!"

Lee rubbed his jaw, but didn't move to strike her. "What I should do is have you hauled off to the brig."

"You should," she agreed. "But I guarantee you'll feel better if you just hit me."

Lee straightened up and faced her with a look of aching sadness. "You really believe that?" He brushed past her and continued walking down the hallway.

"It was obvious he was really tired," Kara said.

Commander Adama nodded. "He seemed that way to me too, yesterday afternoon."

Kara bit her lip, then said, "Yeah, and last night he was even more so, but I thought it would really do him good to relax and loosen up a little before turning in. You know, let go of some of the stress.

Kara hadn't expected that reaction from Lee at all. He always fought back. She followed after him. "All right," she said. "It will make me feel better if you hit me. How's that?"

Lee shook his head. "For Lords' sake, Kara... I'm tired, I'm hungry. I just want a chance to sit down for a meal for the first time in Zeus-knows-how-long and then..."

He'd called her "Kara"! She was making progress. "Fine, you can hit me after dinner."

"I don't want to hit you!" he snarled. "I'm tired of fighting everyone and everything! Cylons! You! My father! Colonel Tigh! The Quorum! Frak it... I just want a little peace! For five frakking minutes, can't you give me that!" His voice was breaking as he completed his tirade.

Kara swallowed. "Okay. I'm sorry. I just wanted to... look Lee, the simple fact is that the squadron has really missed you. For whatever odd reason, they're not just looking forward to having the commander back on the job. They're looking forward to having you back with us too. They've... we've missed your boring briefings and textbook patrols. Look, they're all gathering in the rec room, and they want to welcome you back. Can't you just drop by and pretend for a minute that you're glad to be coming back? Then, you can sneak off alone if you want, and I promise no one will bother you the rest of the night."

Kara didn't really intend to let Lee sneak off anywhere, but if she could just get him into a relaxed social gathering among friends, maybe... just maybe it would do him some good.

"At first," she told the commander, "it seemed to be working. The squadron was all waiting in the rec room, and once he walked in and saw everybody there... he smiled for the first time in weeks."

Lee actually jumped back startled as he came through the rec room door and was greeted by a shrill yodeling. A few seconds later the yodeling transformed into a horridly off-key rendition of the old Caprican ballad, "Back Where I Belong." Barely half-way through the first verse, Lee was unable to resist laughing.

"Obviously, the ambrosia has been flowing for a while already," Lee said, shaking his head and wincing at the caterwauling from his pilots.

"And then, we had a few drinks. We had Kat run down to the mess and grab some food for him. He took a few minutes talking with each one of the pilots. And... he really seemed okay. He was relaxed, even a little chatty. Helo invited him to sit in on a game of cards... and he did. I didn't even have to push him. He pulled up a chair. Four of us sat there.. and he really seemed okay, for a while. But then..."

"What?" the commander asked. He'd been leaning against the wall while Kara talked, but now he straightened up, sensing she was leading up to something more than a recounting of a simple card game.

"He started to get... distant, and quiet. I thought it was just the fatigue starting to catch up with him again."

"How many cards Captain? Sir?"

Lee Adama blinked and looked back at Helo. Lee's face was void of any expression. Then his eyes idly scanned the cards in his hand again. He separated two cards from the others and tossed them onto the table. "I'll take two," he said quietly, his voice nearly monotone.

The Raptor pilot dealt a pair of cards from the top of the deck and slid them across the tabletop to his CAG. Helo then turned his attention to the player sitting on his right. "How about you Starbuck?"

Kara pursed her lips and offered a smug smile to the rest of the players. "Well, I've grown suddenly quite attached to these cards I have right here." She winked to the sullen-faced captain, but he gave no reaction. "I'll stand," she said.

"I'm out," Kat said, tossing her cards onto the table.

"Smart girl," Kara said. "You still in Helo?"

Helo winced. When Starbuck stood on her initial hand, that wasn't a good sign to anyone who was playing against her. Still, his hand had potential. He flipped a single card onto the tabletop and announced, "Dealer takes one."

"And that," Kara declared with excessive cheerfulness, "passes the ball back to our intrepid leader." All eyes at the table, and those of the observing crowd, shifted to Lee Adama. He appeared completely oblivious. After a few seconds of absolutely no action from Lee, Kara whistled glibly. "Hello over there," she called. "Are you going to bet or not?"

Lee's face remained a blank slate, but he finally flicked a pair of coins into the center of the table. "I'm in for 20."

Kara raised an eyebrow. "I'll see your 20, and raise you 30. Wouldn't want you to get too bored, Bossman." Lee looked back at her, but his sullen expression didn't change. She had hoped that her forced levity might lighten up his mood again. "Gotta keep the excitement coming. And that makes 50 to you Helo," she said.

Helo frowned, and then dropped his cards. "Too rich for me. I'm out."

"Looks like it's just you and me," Kara said to Lee. "That is, if you have 30 more."

Lee's eyes glanced toward the clock. "It's nearly midnight," he said quietly.

"So? Your money will still be good tomorrow," she replied, keeping her voice chipper. "Besides, you don't have the early shift. And with the Old Man back, Colonel Tigh will actually have to do his own job for a change." That prompted a ripple of laughs amongst the pilots.

Lee just blinked, apparently not as amused as everyone else.

Kara shook her head, her voice growing grim. "And then... he did something I just didn't understand."

"What?" the commander asked. "What did he do?"

"Tell you what," Lee said. "Let's just get this over with. I'll bet everything I have." He shoved his entire stack of holdings into the center of the table.

Kara tapped her cards on the table. "Interesting. But you know, I have more to bet with than you do, so it's really pointless to try buying the pot. If I bet everything, you'll just have to fold."

"That's your call to make," Lee said. "But then you'll never know if I could have beaten you." A few observers chuckled. In spite of Lee's ultra-deadpan demeanor, he was sending an unmistakable challenge to Starbuck.

Kara smiled at Lee. "So, I can go for the simple win... or beat you head to head and then win. Hmm. Tough choice. I call." She measured out a number of cubits to equal Lee's bet and pushed them into the pile in the middle of the table. Then she turned her cards over to reveal, "Full straight."

The observers held their breath as Lee gave another long look at his cards. Then he let out a slow breath and shook his head. "I'm done," he said, laying his cards face-down on the table. A few of the observing pilots groaned softly in disappointment. Lee stood up from his chair. "Good night everyone," he said to the squadron and headed for the door.

"Lee?" Kara called after him. She reached to scoop up her winnings, but didn't want to just let Lee walk away like that. She really hadn't intended to cheer him up by cleaning him out. "Hey wait a minute! At least let me buy you another drink." He didn't look back. Before she had gathered all her cubits, he was out the door and gone.

"What the frak?" Helo suddenly commented. He had just taken a look at Lee's cards.

"What?" Kara asked.

Helo turned over the cards for everyone to see. "He had full colors!"

"What?" Kara asked again, grabbing for the cards. Several of the pilots burst out laughing, but Kara didn't find this at all amusing. Lee had beaten her. He'd known it. And yet he'd just left all of his money and walked away?

"Man," Kat said, "he must really be wiped. He can't even see straight."

"Or think straight," Hotdog suggested.

Helo said, "Or... he can do both, but doesn't give a shit."

"He won... but pretended that he didn't," Kara said. "He just... walked away. He knew he won. He had to. Tired or not, he had to know, but he just left his money and walked away." Kara shook her head in confusion over the memory. "It worried me a little," she said. "So, I tried to follow right after him."

Kara grabbed for the remaining cubits on the table.

"Hey Starbuck," Helo called out. "Come on. The captain won all that fair and square... whether he realizes it or not."

Kara glared at Helo. "Which is why I'm going to go give it to him. If you want, you can follow me and make sure that I don't stuff it under my mattress, all right?"

Helo held up his hands. "No thanks. If there's any chance you two are getting into it, I don't want to be standing in the kill zone."

Kara gave Helo a sour eye, then stuffed the last few cubits into her pockets and took off after Lee. Judging by how tired he was, she assumed he was headed to his rack for some long overdue sleep. She strode through the hallways, torn between feelings of concern and anger. What was Lee thinking? Was his head really that muddled? Or was he yanking her chain and testing her integrity while embarrassing her in front of the squadron?

Kara hugged her hands tighter beneath her arms. "He was only out of my sight for a few minutes," she told the commander. "Just a few minutes... but when I got to quarters..."

It took only a few minutes to reach the room that she shared with Lee and several other pilots. By then, however, she was already worked up into a tense mood that threatened to turn ugly if Lee so much as smirked at her when she tried to return his money. She tugged on the heavy hatch to the room and pulled it open. Frosty and Stinger were already tucked away in their racks, snoring. They had the first CAP in the morning, so Kara stepped into the room quietly and looked toward the back. Lee was also already in his rack, but apparently he'd been so tired that he hadn't bothered to remove his pants or shoes before lying down. He had only taken off his tunic.

"He must really be wiped," Kara thought, any remnant anger disappearing quickly. Then she noticed in the dim light that Lee's eyes were still open. He wasn't asleep yet. She walked up beside his rack.

"Lee?" she said quietly. "Look I know you're not much of a card shark, but even you know that full colors beats a straight." She reached into her pocket and grabbed a handful of cubits. "You won. I don't know what you were trying to do back there but... here. You earned it."

He didn't make any move to claim his prize.

"Lee, come on. This isn't likely to ever happen again, so savor it while you can."

Kara choked up and winced at the memory. Tears welled up in her eyes. "When I got there... it was too late."

Lee didn't move. He didn't even look her way.

Kara was starting to get worried. "Lee? Would you please say something to me? Tell me to frak off if you want, but this silent treatment is scaring me."

"Frak off," said one of the other pilots who had been trying to sleep.

"Hey, I wasn't talking to you Frosty!" Kara retorted sharply.

She turned back to Lee. "Come on Lee. Take the damn money." She grabbed for his hand to give him the cubits. His hand was limp. Kara's heart skipped a beat. "Lee?" She stepped up on the edge of the lower bunk for better access. She leaned over him, grabbing him by the shoulders and shaking him. His head lolled limply to one side and she saw his open eyes staring blankly at nothing. Franticly, she felt at his throat for a pulse. There was none.

"I was too late," Kara choked.

Commander Adama stepped forward and took her into his arms, hugging her. "That's not what I heard," he said gently. "Colonel Tigh said that you saved him."

"Lee!" Kara shouted, terrified. "No! Please no! Frosty, get the frak up now!"

"Whhaat?" Frosty groaned, rolling over.

"Get up and get over here! Help me!" Kara screamed. "I can't get him out on my own. Help me!" she pleaded.

Frosty was rolling to his feet. "Starbuck, what are you doing?"

"He's not breathing!" she shouted. "Help me get him on the floor! Stinger, call for a medic! Hurry!"

All the pilots were in motion now, moving with swift urgency. Frosty was a tall man, barely squeaking in under the pilots' maximum height limit, and his tattooed arms were broader than most men's legs. Kara scrambled out of the way while Frosty stepped up beside Lee's rack and reached in. He got one arm under Lee's shoulders and pulled him around until he could get a firm grip around Lee's chest. Then he heaved Lee's body from the upper level rack while Kara stood by to grab Lee's legs. Frosty bore most of Lee's weight, but Kara still struggled to assist. Lee was slim and only of average height, but he was very muscular and much heavier than he looked. They eased his slack body to the floor and laid him out as gently as they could. Kara leaned over him, slapping at his face, but Lee gave no response.

"Damn it Lee... you can't do this! Please...!" She slipped a hand under his neck and tilted his head back. Holding his jaw open, she fitted her mouth over his and tried to breathe some life back into his inert lungs.

"Shit, I got no pulse," Frosty declared, releasing Lee's wrist from his grasp.

"I know CPR," Stinger volunteered.

Frosty gave a surprised glance over his shoulder at Stinger then scrambled clear, saying, "Get over here, man."

"Did you call sickbay?" Kara demanded to know.

"Yeah," Stinger replied, kneeling beside Lee. "Paramedics are on the way." He clasped his hands together against Lee's chest and began a timed pumping action over Lee's heart. He counted out loud and Kara used the count to time her breaths into Lee's mouth.

1-2-3-4-5. Breathe. 1-2-3-4-5. Breathe.

As Stinger counted again, Kara started silently praying. "Lords of Kobol... don't take him! I beg you, please don't take him!" On count, she fitted her lips over Lee's and blew into his mouth. His lips were still warm against hers. "You're not gone yet," she whispered to him. "I'm not letting you go. Now breathe Lee. Just breathe!"

Kara didn't bother paying attention to how many times she breathed for Lee. Stopping wasn't an option until he was breathing on his own. Neither of the other pilots made any suggestion of abandoning their efforts either. It was a simple, unspoken understanding; they were not going to give up.

Kara wiped at her face. "Stinger and I did CPR," she explained to Adama. "I'm not sure for how long. We just... we kept going until the paramedics arrived, but I don't think that was more than... I don't know... five minutes or so."

Kara didn't register anything in her mind at all other than continuing the task at hand until she was grabbed from behind by Frosty and pulled out of the way. The paramedics had arrived.

"What happened?" the lead paramedic, Sergeant Kim, asked her. "Lieutenant?"

"What?" Kara blinked. She had been staring numbly at Lee's pallid face.

"What happened to him?" the medic asked again.

"I-I don't know," she breathed.

Sgt. Kim looked around at the other pilots. They all shook their heads. "Starbuck just found him like this," Frosty said.

"Like this? On the floor?"

"No," Starbuck replied. "He was in his rack. But he was just... we were just playing cards in the rec room... just a few minutes ago. He walked out without his winnings, so I came to give them to him, and he was already just... laying there."

"In his rack? But none of you saw or heard what happened? Anything at all?"

Lee's roommates all sheepishly shook their heads. "We were asleep," Stinger said.

The other medics had already intubated Lee and were using a bag to breathe for him. They were in the process of cutting Lee's undershirts from his body, a defibrillator standing by, charging. One paramedic made the gesture of closing Lee's staring eyes.

Sgt. Kim dropped down beside Lee and joined his team in the examination. "No outward sign of injury. Which is his locker?" he asked. Frosty pointed out the correct closet door, and the medic began rummaging through.

"What are you doing?" Kara asked, suddenly defensive over this invasion of Lee's privacy.

"Was he taking any medications?" the medic asked.

"What? No, I don't think so," Kara answered.

Finding nothing, the medic shut the door. "Which rack is his? Where did you find him?"

Kara pointed it out. "Up there."

The medic stepped onto the ladder and climbed up, crawling around and raking his fingers through the blankets for some sign of... "Shit."

"That was when they found it," Kara said, her voice barely above a whisper. "The paramedics found it in his rack."

"The Red Needle?" Adama asked grimly.

Kara nodded and her breath caught as her emotions threatened to break loose and send her into uncontrollable tears.

"What is it?" Kara asked, glancing between Lee and the medic, who had obviously found something.

"20 CC's of appenephrine, now!" Sgt. Kim called to his crew. He jumped down from Lee's rack with something in his hand. "Lieutenant, exactly how long ago did you say you were with him in the rec room?"

"Just a few minutes," Kara answered. "Why?"

"Exactly how many? Time could be critical here!"

Kara checked her watch. It had been just barely before 00:00 hours when Lee surrendered the card game. It was now 00:12. "About 12... 12 minutes."

"In the rec room, 12 minutes ago," the medic figured. "Did you follow him here right away?"

"Yes," Kara confirmed.

"Considering walking time, that would put the event at roughly 7 minutes ago then. And you started CPR right away?"

Frosty answered, "As soon as we got him out of his rack."

"What did you find!" Starbuck nearly shouted.

"Clear!" the paramedics working on Lee called. A moment later, Lee's body convulsed as they sent a shock of electricity jolting through him in the hope of reviving his heart.

Sgt. Kim opened his hand to show Kara what he had found in Lee's rack. It was a small red cylinder that terminated on one end in a sharp needle. Kara needed no further explanation. She felt the world drop away from under her.

"No," she groaned. "Oh Lords, no." She clasped her hand over her mouth, trying to resist the sudden urge to be sick.

"Frak me," Frosty muttered. "He killed himself.