Author's Note: I'm reposting this complete series of fics under the name of the original story, as per the request of many of my reviewers. If this is your first time reading, I hope you enjoy, and if you're rereading...well hot damn I'm good. Thanks for all the support.

Spoilers- season one
Disclaimers-I don't own these characters, Ron Moore does
Summary- set after Kara has returned to Galactica. Pilots & crew are celebrating Starbucks birthday.

"All right, listen up! We've sung, we've drank, and I've taken most of your money and all of your pride" Kara beams, "now lets move on to the important subject of presents."

"Well Starbuck, with such a polite request as that, how could we refuse" Lee teases.

"Hey, how old are you anyway?" Hot Dog asks. Immediate silence fills the room and all eyes waver between Kara and Hot Dog, gauging the depth of shit he's in for asking her age.

Kara's face gives nothing away as she replies, "Older than you Hot Dog, but I'll always be prettier." She can't help but smile at the look of relief that spreads across his features. "Now come on, gifts!"

"Okay, okay." Kat holds out a small bag. "We submit to the will of the Almighty Starbuck, the nugget God, and we, your flight class, present you with this token of our respect and esteem."

Kara lets out an undignified snort and a "Yeah right" at that last bit. She parts the paper covering her gift from the nuggets and suddenly, her tone and gaze both turn icy when she asks, "What the frak is this?"

Lee knows that look and feels an immediate pang of sympathy for Hot Dog, who steps up to answer on behalf of the rooks.

"Well sir, we figured you'd be getting a lot of the standard gifts…ambrosia, books/music, cigars, and the like and we just thought…" he looks at his fellow nuggets "we thought this was a unique gift and that you'd find it funny."

Despite this explanation, the look on Kara's face does not change. Kara generally has a very good sense of humor and Lee finds her quite anger over this gag gift increasingly unnerving. "Starbuck, what's in the bag?"

Immediately cold hazel daggers are piercing at Lee, but he holds her gaze and she seems to calm a bit. At least her outright scowl has diminished to a pissy look of disbelief. She reaches into the bag and produces from it a handful, no more or less, of black clothing. She stands and unravels the garments to show the Triad table, what is unmistakably, a lace lingerie set. There are a few moments of tense silence, before the first whistle is let loose and the cat calls and jeering begin.

Lee can't help but smile in appreciation of the gift & the sheer brass of the rooks for giving it, but that smile fades when he takes in Kara's stoic poise. A shade of hollowness passes briefly through that sea of green and it conjures a memory from the fringes of Lee's mind.

In those few seconds of Lee's revelry, the patented Starbuck grimace has returned and she all but growls, "Please tell me you didn't give up stogies or booze for this?"

"Well sir" Kat hesitates, "it cost us two bottles of ambrosia."

"For this?" Kara gawks in exasperation. "Ok, apparently you nuggets still need a few lessons, so listen up. First off, remember that nothing says "Happy Birthday Starbuck" like a good bottle of booze. Second, next time have one of the senior pilots negotiate the trade, because you were robbed. Third and most important of all, Starbuck doesn't do lace! Got it!"

A chorus of "Yes, Sir's" murmur through the rec room.

Kara shakes her head slightly. Now that the initial shock has passed, she takes a moment to appraise the garments. The set is made of a semi-sheer, smooth black mesh material. There's a subtle lace trim on the waist of the thong panties that extends along the G-string. The bra has a simple ivy pattern embroidered over the cups, which would just barely cover the nipples. The lingerie is taunting, teasing, and, if she was being honest, totally Starbuck. The room has grown quite during her examination and she asks the necessary question whose answer she dreads. "Where the hell did you guys get this?"

Lee watches as the nuggets exchange furtive glances and his stomach drops a bit with foreboding.

Starbuck swings the thong around on her index finger, "Or more specifically…who did you get this from?"

"Well we could only find one person who seemed about your size, Sir." Kat replied.

Lee nearly snorts ambrosia up his nose in an effort to keep from laughing at the indigent look on Kara's face. Obviously, up until this moment, she'd overlooked the fact that her nuggets must've speculated on her bra and panty size to accomplish this task. The small chuckle that manages to escape draws her attention away from Kat for a moment and earns him a death glare.

"WHO?" Her tone is insistent and harsh, causing Kat to flinch.

"Uhm…we got them from the X.O.'s wife."

A wave of revulsion grips her and Kara feels herself spinning. No wait, it's the panties that are spinning…on her finger…her finger is on the crotch of Ellen Tigh's panties…the panties of the biggest whore in the human race…the X.O.'s wife…which means that Paul Tigh undoubtedly touched, petted, and removed this thong...with that final mental image Kara's brain functions cease. Her finger freezes in its circular motion, sending the panties flying into the middle of the Triad table. The ripple effect of all the pilots scrambling back from the table to escape the panties of "Super Tramp" would've been highly entertaining if Kara wasn't concentrating all her energy on not vomiting.

Once a safe distance from Mrs. Tigh's thong, Lee chances a look in Kara's direction. She is still staring at the violated finger and she looks decidedly ill. "Kara?"

"If anyone needs me I'll be scrubbing the skin off this finger in the head." She promptly turns around and exits the rec room, leaving her winnings and gifts behind.

"Maybe we should go after her?" Kat offers.

"I would advise that all the rooks to keep clear of Starbuck for a little while." Lee is throwing the items that Kara has left behind into the bag from the nuggets. "In fact, consider it an order. I'd hate to have to throw her in the brig on her birthday and I have no doubt that she'd deck the first of you that dares speak to her." Lee sighs and chooses a discarded fork to pick up the now infamous thong.

"That's really not necessary, sir" Hot Dog offers. "They were never worn. We just took the tags off because that's what you do with gifts…you don't leave the price tag on."

Lee gives the nuggets an accusatory stare "I'm not buying that theory seeing as money has no value now-a-days. Try again."

"And…" Hot Dog continues "we thought her reaction to the news of who we got it from would be priceless, but not traumatic. Really sir, we had no idea she'd be so pissed off. It was just a joke."

Lee shakes his head and picks up the flimsy panties, depositing them into the gift bag. "Look guys I get it, and if truth be told, Starbuck has given out her fair share of prank gifts, you just…you just picked the one thing that really gets under her skin. I'll talk to her and straighten things out, but I meant what I said…steer clear of Starbuck until I give you the green light."

"Yes, sir."

----------------------------------------------------

Lee finds her in officer quarters staring at the picture of her, him, and Zak in her locker. He can't decide the best way to approach this, but suddenly her current point of focus provides him with the answer. "You know, I'm really impressed with how you handled that situation tonight Kara."

She starts at the sound of his voice and rounds on him with a furious gaze, "Don't mock me Lee. I'm not in the mood."

"No. I'm serious" he tells her, his voice even and serene. "In fact I would say that the rooks got off light" he says as he closes the distance between them. "If I remember correctly, the last guy to give you underwear for a gift was rewarded with a black eye." Lee smiles at the shocked look on Kara's face.

"How did you know about that?"

"I saw Zak a few days after the Solstice when he'd presented you with a similar gift. At first he kept to some lame story about a bar scuffle, but he could never lie worth a damn. At least not to me, and I finally got the truth out of him with a few shots of ambrosia." Lee's eyes are twinkling with mirth and suddenly they are both laughing in shared memory.

Kara feels the constraint in her chest lessen for the first time since opening the gift bag earlier that night. "It's odd that you brought that up, because that was the first thing I thought of when I opened that gift from the nuggets. In fact, my drowning in that memory is probably the only thing that saved those poor nuggets from a beat down."

"Well, at least the set they gave you wasn't crotch-less" Lee adds with a knowing, shit-eating grin. "I told Zak, that's probably where he went wrong. It's presumptuous to give a woman lingerie in general, but giving her 'easy-access' undies is crossing the line."

Kara is mortified by Lee's intimate knowledge but can't fully stifle a giggle when she tells him, "Okay that is officially more than you needed to know…anything else Zak told you about me?"

"Not much that I didn't know already."

Kara nods and her disposition, which was so light just moments ago, seems burdened again. Lee is worried that he's said something wrong, but before he can react, she begins to answers his unasked question.

"Zak and I fought about that once." She glances at him briefly to affirm that he's listening. "On more than one occasion, I got the impression he was jealous of our relationship and I confronted him about it." She sighs heavily and Lee waits, with baited breathe, for her to continue. "Zak told me that he felt he was always playing catch-up when it came to understanding me, compared to you, because we'd been roommates and friends for so long."

Lee laughs slightly at his naïve brother's logic, "I don't know what Zak was thinking…I've never had any insight into the workings of the mind of Starbuck."

Kara smiles faintly, continuing, "I think what really disturbed Zak, was that you knew so many little details about my habits, past, and reasoning. He felt that those were the things that only he and I should know and share."

Lee's head is swimming with this new information and he can feel guilt pressing in, but the lunacy of it all makes him pause. He gently takes her hand in his, "Kara, I'd never apologize for knowing you first because that's just ridiculous. It sounds like Zak was just insecure and given that you were his first love, he needed the reassurance. I'm glad you were able to give that to him."

Kara shakes her head in frustration, "But don't you see Lee, I didn't give it to him when he needed it most. I gave him a false reassurance, when I should've been honest with him, and it got him killed." Errant tears are sliding down her cheeks and she swipes at them viciously. "But I did it anyway because, the thing that really burned him, made him especially envious, was when he saw the way we flew together. He told me…he told me that it was like watching you frak me in the sky. A perfect synchronized rhythm, driven by instinct and intimacy." She looks up at Lee to find sorrow in the depths of his pale blue eyes. "I shouldn't have told you."

"No. Kara, you don't have to carry these things inside, you can talk to me. I may not know what to say, but I'll always listen." He squeezes her hand until their eyes are locked, "Zak's need to feel validated by being able to fly, was something ingrained in him, hell in both of us, from a very young age. It's why I blamed my father for Zak's death, but I'm slowly coming to realize that we all played a part. We each contributed our own mistakes which lead to that tragedy, but the truth is that Zak's death was an accident and there's no one person to blame."

Kara sniffles slightly as she regains her poise and asks, "Have you shared this newfound wisdom with your father yet?"

"I will, but not tonight. Tonight, for another twenty minutes anyway, it's your birthday and I intend to see you smile a bit more before it's over." He holds up the bag with her deserted presents and pulls out the bra & panty set. Kara inches back into her bunk putting as much distance between her and the likely VD catalog panties of Lady Tigh.

"Keep those things away from me. Ew. I can't even believe you're touching them."

Between laughs, Lee explains the sinister plot of the nuggets and much to his surprise, Kara is laughing too by the end.

"Well I have to give them credit; it was a dirty trick worthy of the Starbuck seal of approval. But Lords of Kobol help them if they should ever pull a stunt like that on me again."

"Just to be safe, I'll switch shifts with Hot Dog so that I'm you're wingman tomorrow."

"Lee, don't you trust me" Kara asks in her most sing-song innocent voice.

Lee levels her with his CAG look and tone, leaving no room for doubt, "With my life" and she smiles warmly at the acknowledgement of trust. "But not with those of the rooks for the next 48 hours." Now he's smiling and Kara's hard-pressed not to emulate.

"So, is keeping me out of the brig your present?"

"Alright, alright, I can take a hint." Lee turns to his locker and pulls from it a Galactica standard issue file folder. With a shy smile, he presents it her, "Happy Birthday Kara."

Kara looks at the folder before giving Lee a swift searching look. "Lee if you're trying to pass off paperwork as a gift for me, I may just need to shoot you. I'm starting to think that the bra & panties of Ellen "Easy" Tigh isn't such a repulsive gift after all."

"Just, open it."

Kara peels back the folder cover and is rendered speechless for a full minute. Her eyes are roving swiftly in disbelief and when she caresses the pages with her fingers, they're trembling. Indeed her entire body is shaking with restrained emotion and Lee almost misses her faint question, "Where did you get this?"

"When we were setting up security for Colonial Day" Kara can't suppress a flinch of guilt about that trip, but Lee continues "the entertainment director on Cloud Nine inquired whether you, Kara Thrace, were related to the famous pianist and composer."

Kara looks up from the folder a bittersweet expression on her lovely face.

"As it turns out he's a big fan of your father's work and he was kind enough to make a hand written copy of the sheet music for 'Death of a Caprican Sunset' in exchange for a few shuttle trips. I know it's your favorite piece and I just thought you should have it to hold, even if you can't listen to it."

A tear slips down her cheek and Lee quickly brushes it aside with his thumb, "Lords, Kara, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to upset you. I just…" his words fall off as he notices that Kara has turned her head into the palm of his hand, nuzzling it softly. When she looks at him, she seems shocked by her own actions.

Kara retreats from Lee's hand, but into his personal space. She places one hand on his cheek, the other still holding the precious sheet music, and kisses him softly. The kiss is chaste and warm, full of innocence, but there's an intensity humming below the surface. Her head dips towards his shoulder, initiating a hug and she whispers to him "I love it. Thank you, Lee."

Lee caresses the nape of her neck as she takes a step back from him, "You're welcome." The heat between them is palpable and Lee considers pulling her back in to taste those honey-sweet lips more thoroughly, but she breaks their silence and the moment passes.

"I still can't believe you did this, thought of this?"

"Well that's the point isn't it? Hell, when the world you know has been destroyed, when it comes to gifts, I guess the old cliché holds true now more than ever…it's the thought that counts."

A warm feeling settles into Kara's belly and she knows that it's not just the gift she loves. She loves the thought behind it, the mind behind the thought, and the man whose mind knows her so well. "In that case, this thought is the loveliest I've ever received. Thank you."

The sincerity in her gratitude causes his blood to sing. "Well, the sheet music was only one part of the original plan. What I really wanted was to give this to you over on Cloud Nine, so I could play the piece for you. Now granted I haven't played in years, but I would've been willing to try. Maybe one day, when we get a day off…" he trails off and Kara lets out a short laugh.

"Lee if you can manage to pull that off, I'll attend the concerto in Lady Tigh's underwear of sin."

It's meant as a joke but the intimacy of his gift and the lingering kiss just before, be speaks a challenge.

"Is that a bet, Starbuck?"

Kara smiles, a mischievous glint in her eye, as she extends her hand. "If you're up to the challenge, Captain. Shall we say 30 days? If you can set that up, I'll attend the concert wearing a skirt & blouse and the gift from my rooks. If you fail, you will attend that evening's Triad game wearing my gift from the rooks beneath your fatigues."

Lee should know better than to play this game with her, but her superior smile and the thought of Kara in that lace thong wreaks havoc on his judgment. "You're on Staruck."

They shake hands and hold the touch for a moment too long….

"Captain Adama please report to CIC, pass the word to Captain Adama, report to CIC immediately."

"Frak."

Kara laughs, "Good luck on getting those vacation days boss man."

"We'll just wait and see who's laughing in 30 days." When he reaches the hatch, he briefly turns around telling her, "And, Kara…Happy Birthday."