Rivals

Of all the stupid things Lee Adama had ever done, this one would certainly reign as king of them all. Helping Kara rescue her lover on their pretty much dead planet. The same planet that was occupied by the toasters who had destroyed his world. When they killed him, Lee pretty much had the epitaph on his tombstone all picked out: Here lies Lee Adama, stupidest mother-frakker on the planet.

"Lee? Are you asleep?" Her voice broke through his thoughts, as always.

For a little while he closed his eyes and pretended that he was indeed. He stiffened and tried to hold still when he felt her fingers on his cheek. He felt Kara sigh against his face and imagined her staring down at him.

"I'm sorry." She murmured dropping her head on his chest.

Lee wasn't sure what she was apologizing for. For not loving him back, he imagined. Well, Lee didn't need Kara's pity, especially about that!

She snuggled closer to him and Lee can feel her stomach against his hip. She brought the blanket higher over them.

"How did it all get so frakked up?" He heard her ask.

Oh gee, could it be because you fell in love with some pyramid player and not me?

"Lords of Kobol, hear my prayer..." Kara began.

Uh oh., Lee thought. He knew he should let Kara know he was awake. He didn't want to listen in on her private prayers.

"Help me fix it somehow. Help me...shit. I don't know. Oh, sorry." He heard the quick apology to the Gods. "Help me tell him...somehow." Then he felt drop back onto her back, her shoulder pressed against him. "What the hell would I tell him anyway? I'm sorry? Tried that. Didn't go over too well. And what the hell do I have to be sorry for anyway?" Her arm moved away from him and Lee risked a peek through lowered eyelids. She was sitting up, knees bent up to her chest. The small bit of moonlight peeking into the mouth of the cave making her blonde hair look almost silver.

"It's not as if you were breaking down my door...or well, hatch as the case me be, trying to jump my bones, now were you? Oh no. The Great Apollo was too good and decent for that."

Lee grit his teeth and fought against the urge to show her just how 'good and decent' he was.

"Anders is a good guy. Why should I feel bad about caring about him? Hell, you're always so big on telling me what I'm doing wrong. You should be frakking cheering me on now that I finally found someone who's good and sane and genuinely cares about me. I can't help how I feel about him. Anymore than I can help how I feel-"

Lee had enough. "Frak this." He kicked out of the sleeping back and nearly tripped over Kara in his desperation to put as much distance between him and her ramblings about Anders.

"Where are you going?" Kara asked, eyes wide with surprise.

"I, The Great Apollo, am going out of my frakking mind. So if it's all the same to you I'm gonna find somewhere else to sleep!" He shouted at her.

"Wait! Are you nuts? Where? What if the Cylons see you?" Kara hissed getting to her feet.

"Well you know what? A Cylon blast through the gut is looking pretty good right now." Lee snapped.

"What the frak is your problem?" Kara demanded. "And you may have a death wish but I don't so keep your frakking voice down."

"My problem is that you can't even see what my problem is. THAT'S my problem!"

Kara blinked at him in confusion. "Was I supposed to understand any of- Were you awake this whole time?" her mouth dropped open and if it wasn't so dark he wondered if he could have seen her blush.

"Give the woman a prize." He sneered slipping on his jacket.

"Okay. Okay." Kara repeated resolutely. "Let's have it out then. What the hell is your problem with Anders?"

"My problem, Kara, is not with lover boy. My problem is with you." He pointed at her.

"Me? What the frak did I ever do to you? And if you have such a problem with me, what the hell are you doing here?"

"Because you can't seem to go anywhere on your own and not end up either lost on some Gods damned moon or shot. I'd rather not put the fleet at risk again looking for your sorry ass." Lee shot back.

Kara's mouth opened and then closed. She took a step back from him. "You're a son of a bitch." She spun and stormed back to the sleeping bag. Lee felt a pang of what might have been regret if he hadn't been so pissed off.

He slept on the ground outside the cave. Cold and sore and miserable. When he went to wake Kara, she silently got up. Glaring at him and picking up their things. She didn't say two words to him as she led him to where Ander's camp had been. Lee almost wished he could press her buttons again so at least she'd be speaking, though shouting at him and most likely punching as well.

The camp was empty.

"Frak. I figured they might have moved to keep the Cylon's from finding them but I kinda hoped not. Shit." Kara groaned.

Lee didn't dare reply. She was holding her knife and looking around for some clue as to where her true love had gone. If Lee didn't feel like ramming Kara's head through that tree over to their left, he'd cry.

"Let's take a break." Lee suggested after they walked for another four hours through the hills. Kara was sweating and looked about ready to collapse.

Helo had gone on and on about the rain on Caprica. Lee and Kara get there and were being cooked in their flight suits. If Helo was here, Lee would shove one of the other pilot's ever present lollipops up his nose into his brain.

"We've wasted enough time as it is." Kara panted, wiping her forehead.

"Come on, Kara. You're about to pass out. I could use a breather too." Lee assured her, unzipping his flight suit to the waist. It took some doing, seeing as the heat had stuck the material damply to his arms and chest. His tanks were soaked through.

"I said no. The sooner we find them. The sooner we can all go home." Kara spat, her bad knee buckling in protest, nearly making her topple backwards against Lee.

"Lieutenant, we're stopping. That's an order." Lee snapped grabbing her arm, wincing at the heat of the leather material.

"Frak you!" Kara said with a scowl, striking out and catching him with a fist across his chin.

He came back with a shot to her mouth, scraping his knuckles against her teeth.

Words never seemed to be their strong suit.

Gunfire erupted above them and Lee dived on top of Kara, shielding her as dirt and rocks popped off the ground. Lee reached for both his and Kara's guns and returned fire.

Then Kara was screaming at the both of them to stop.

"Kara?" The man firing at them suddenly stopped and a wide grin spread on to his face which faltered when he noticed the bloodstain spreading across his abdomen.

"Sam!" Kara cried rushing up towards him.

So this was Kara's beloved, Lee thought with growing horror. The great Anders, who it seemed Lee had just shot in the stomach. Nice to meet you too, asshole. Lee imagined them meeting each other a dozen different ways.

This had not been one of them.

Anders was badly wounded. His group had a first aid kit with them but that was pretty much all. No doctor to speak of unless you counted the skinny little shrimp named Dorman who'd volunteered at a hospital every weekend before the world went boom. He took one look at the bullet wound and fainted. No help from that end.

Kara said she would be the one to do it. When Lee protested, she sent him a look that would freeze Hades. She assured Ander's group that Lee wasn't a Cylon and that the shooting had been an accident, but that's about as far as she went to help him. Though it was no small thing. Lee could easily have gotten a bullet in the brain from this group for shooting their hero. As it was, they shot him glares that matched Kara's but let him help treat Anders.

Lee had no plan beyond getting the bullet out and trying not let the wound get infected. One of the men, Jameson, had a few bottles of ambrosia that Lee used to disinfect the wound and try and numb Anders to the pain.

"So you're the Great Apollo, huh? Heard a lot about you." Anders panted through a haze of sweat and pain.

"Oh yeah?" Lee asked absently. The last thing he wanted was to make conversation with Kara's latest frak, who was probably going to die because of him.

"The way Kara went on about you, thought you'd be bigger."

"Bite down on this." Lee pushed a slim stick against his lips. "This is gonna hurt like a bitch."

"Just do it." Anders said, stiffening. Lee followed his gaze over Lee's shoulder.

"Kara, maybe you should-" Lee began.

"Don't even. I'm not going anywhere." Kara insisted stubbornly.

"Fine. Then help me by holding him down." Lee ordered curtly.

"You'll be fine." Kara assured Anders in a sweet, soft voice Lee had never heard her use. Lee felt himself grow hard and pushed the impulse down violently. She gave Anders her brightest smile and Lee wished he'd shot her instead of Anders.

Lee didn't think Anders was gonna be fine. He managed to dig out the bullet but he had no idea what to do next. Sam Anders needed a doctor and if Lee had believed in miracles, he'd say Anders needed one of those too.

Anders finally passed out from the pain and Lee was relieved from having to make nice with the man he hated.

"Is he gonna die?" Kara asked coming up behind him as Lee went off to the stream they had found to wash his hands. Lee sighed and turned to face her. Her eyes were wide and black in the dark.

"I don't know." He replied honestly.

"Bullshit. Tell me straight, Lee."

"Kara, I don't know! Do I look like Cottle to you?" Lee burst in frustration.

Kara shook her head then gave him a bitter smile. "You must just be loving this."

Lee fought a surge of self disgust. "You know this was an accident." He turned away from her so he wouldn't give in to the impulse to ask her why the hell she cared so much about Anders when Lee had loved her for years. But of course, Kara didn't know that and it wouldn't be fair to tell her now.

"Right. Like Zak's death was an accident." Kara's voice broke and Lee felt a hot lump of regret lodge in his stomach. "So you finally got me back, Lee. How does it feel?"

"What are you talking about? I thought Anders was a frakking Cylon. I know you never meant for Zak to die"

"Really? And you weren't just waiting for the perfect opportunity, biding your time until you could take away the one good thing I had left in my life? Pretending to be my friend, coming along on this little rescue mission all so you could take your revenge.Well congratulations, Apollo. You did it. Mission accomplished. How dumb was I to think that you and I could ever be friends, huh?"

He watched her wipe furiously at her cheeks and his mouth dropped open in astonishment. "You think I hate you?" Lee asked.

"I don't care anymore, cause you know what? Now I hate you! I frakking hate you!" She punched at him shoving him further and further back until his back came up against a tree trunk.

"I don't...Kara, stop! I don't-Dammit! I don't hate-Listen!" Lee shouted gripping her arms and shaking her violently.

Kara dropped her head against his chest and trembled against him. "I want to hate you. Gods I want to hate you but I can't...I can't. Even now. Frak you, Lee Adama." And then she was crying in his arms, sagging heavy against him. Lee wrapped his arms around her not knowing what else to do. Then her mouth was on his neck nuzzling him and Lee knew she should stop. He should tell her to stop but...oh Gods...her mouth was so hot, so wet against his skin and he could feel himself growing hard all over again.

"I'm going to...Frak...Kara. You don't want to do this." He whispered, his arms tightening around her, telling his head to shut the frak up. His cock echoed the sentiment. "You're just worried about..." Lee blanked on the name of the man who was at death's door by his very hand.

"I can't fight you anymore, Lee. You win..."She murmured capturing his mouth.

Lee stopped breathing. The walls and excuses all disappeared and there was nothing but Kara pressed against him, face damp with tears for some other man, but pressed against him. He grabbed the sides of her face and kissed her back. Hard. Deep. He switched their positions so that Kara was the one trapped between him and the tree.

She gave a sharp hiss of pain but Lee swallowed it into his mouth. Waves of pain and loathing burned through his blood but Lee didn't not give a frak for the first time in his life. If Kara wanted this, regardless of her reasons, by the Gods he was going to give it to her. He could hate himself, would no doubt hate himself later but Gods dammit, he'd have her this once.

Her fingers worked the lower half of his flight suit down off his hips, undid his pants and freed him from his boxers. Their hands met and tangled in their rush to ease out of their clothing and then he was lifting her up against the bark of the tree, holding her hips in his hands.

Kara looked down at him, licking her lips. "Don't stop." She sighed, breath sweet and hot against his face. Lee's fingers flexed with tension on the strong smooth bones of her hips. "I want...do it..."

He settled inside of her in one smooth stroke. Tight heat filled every nerve ending of Lee's body. Kara cried out above him, the sound muffled in his hair as he began to thrust sharply up into her. Her arms wrapped tight around his neck and fingers dug into his back. Lee cupped her bottom to protect her naked skin from the rough bark as he moved inside of her.

"Oh Gods...Lee...Lee" His name on her lips making him thicker, bursting to release himself but not yet...not yet...Lee told himself through a haze of hot, desperate, pulsing want. He'd watch her come first and know that it was because of him. His fingers slid between her legs, stroking in time with his thrusts and then Kara's body snapped and bowed against him. She bit into his shoulder as he thrust harder, pushing up as if trying to bury all of himself, body and soul up into her body and into her heart.

To push Sam Anders out.

And then she was shaking. Her legs wrapped tight around his waist, Kara rolled her hips pulling Lee's orgasm from him as she took everything else she wanted and to hell with the fact that it was killing him.

"My Gods...Lee...Oh my Gods..." Then she was coming again, fingers digging into his bare arms as he felt himself swell and then burst inside of her. With each snap of his hips and spurt of his seed into her, Lee thought, Mine...mine...mine! He fell against her, his body and heart heavy.

Her hand came up to cradle his head as Lee eased her back on her feet.

"Lee..." She began but he cut her off before the apology could come.

"Gotta go check on him." He said simply readjusting his clothes and forcing himself not to look at her.

The slap across the face stung him more from surprise than actual pain.

"You shit." She seethed and then was off back to the camp.

Ander's breathing was becoming more laboured. When Lee checked his abdomen, his own gut clenched in painful reflex. Holding the flashlight, he studied the raw pus filled wound. Shit.

He must have spoken out loud cause Anders met his gaze with dark understanding. Lee had seen that look before. The look of a man who knew he was going to die.

After what happened with Kara, Lee found it hard to look Anders in the eye. Kara couldn't look at either of them and that just made Lee feel worse.

"So I guess that's it for me." Anders said softly.

"No. You're not gonna die, dammit. You are not gonna die. Kara needs-"

"Why do you care so much, huh? What's it to you if I...Oh." Anders gave Lee a small smile in sudden understanding.

"She's got you too, huh? Well..." then he groaned through a spasm of pain that turned into a coughing fit. He rolled onto his side and Lee rubbed his back, bringing a tin mug of water to Anders' lips. He drank gratefully.

"Relax. Don't talk." Lee insisted. He really didn't want to talk about Kara with this guy.

Sam Anders gave a short laugh that threatened to turn into another coughing fit. "What for? Who knows how much time I got here. I've got to get stuff in order. First though...you. Look at me, man." Anders forced Lee's gaze to his. "Do you love her?"

Lee darted his eyes away but Anders grabbed his wrist. His skin was so hot, Lee marvelled. Fever, he thought distantly.

"Look at me." Anders repeated.

"It's complicated." Lee replied weakly.

"Shit, man. This is Kara Thrace. You think I don't know that?"

"She loves you." Lee said through clenched teeth.

"Isn't what I asked. Never mind what she feels for a sec. How do you feel?"

Lee debated knocking the dying man over the head to get him to shut the frak up.

"Dude, if you can't even tell me, how the frak is she gonna know?" Anders breath was coming shorter and had a strange rattling quality to it.

"What are you doing? Why are you pushing me at your woman?"

"I don't have to push you. You're already there. So is she, you stupid frak. You've known her longer than I have. Loved her that long too, I'd bet."

Lee hesitated but decided there'd be no harm in admitting it. They both knew Anders was dying. Whatever Lee told Anders would die with him.

"Yeah. Fine. So what? You're right. I do know Kara. She's like a frakking brick wall. Nobody gets in." Lee snapped with quiet rage.

"And you think I did? That must really burn you up, huh?" Anders smiled and shook his head. "Though a bullet to the gut was a little extreme."

"I didn't-" Lee began to protest but Anders cut him off.

"Relax. Bad joke. I know it was an accident. No hard feelings."

"Right." Lee replied with a snort.

"I don't have to tell you how special Kara is. Just like I don't have to tell you she is gonna shut down after this if you let her. You can't let her. Do you understand? Do you get what I'm saying here?"

Lee shook his head though he did know. Knew exactly what Sam Anders was saying and could practically see Kara in his mind's eye, turning inward, cold. Beyond him.

"Tell her." Anders pressed. "She's got such...heart, that one. Fire. Loved her from day one, ya know?"

"I know." Lee replied, eyes burning.

"I gotta talk to my gang. There's stuff that needs to be taken care of now. Go find her. Have to..." Another coughing fit, this time with blood.

Lee ordered one of Ander's group to find Kara and bring her to them. And to hurry.

He left them alone. Something inside of him shifted. Where that cold ball of resentment and hate used to be at the thought of Sam Anders, instead there was now...acceptance, respect and even compassion. A different sort of compassion than one man wishing another man didn't have to suffer. They both loved Kara. That tied them to each other as rivals but Lee was winning that competition by default and it made him feel sick inside. He didn't want Kara because Anders was dead. He wanted Kara because she wanted him back.

Lee stared out at the water, sitting against the tree and brought his knees up against his chest. The sun was starting to come up again as it had yesterday. Yet everything was different today. Of course, that would assume that Kara knew Lee was even an option. After making love to her, he couldn't imagine Kara didn't know that already. But he knew how thick Kara Thrace's walls were. He had to make it clear how he felt about her. Tell her. Anders had said.

The sound of a gun shot brought him to his feet and running back towards the camp. Not Kara! My Gods, not her!

They were all standing around quietly and Lee wondered if he'd imagine the gunshot, until he saw Kara with the gun in her hand and Sam Ander's head in her lap. A chill ran down Lee's back, as if someone had walked over his grave.

Sam Anders wasn't moving. He wasn't coughing or shaking, or breathing. Sam Anders was at peace. A peace that Kara had given him. Lee's eyes filled with tears as he watched her stroking Anders' hair, her eyes closed. His heart broke for her and he was about to reach out to her when he saw that she was smiling. When she raised her eyes to Lee, there were tears in them, but she was smiling.

"He's not hurting anymore." She whispered.

They buried Sam Anders in the earth, Kara said a few words, prayers to Gods for his soul and then quietly walked off down to the stream.

Lee debated whether to go after her. Surely she needed time to herself, to give in to her grief but Anders' words kept pushing him. Not to let her close up. Not to let her shut down. She had to know she could come to him. Open up to him. The only way to do that was to go to her.

He found her next to the same tree he had taken her against. She sat quietly staring out onto the water, tears rolling down her face. When he sat next to her, she said nothing just turned in towards him and buried her face in his chest. Her body trembeled against him and Lee tightened his hold on her.

"I'm here." He whispered stroking her hair. "I'm here." Kara's arms came around his back and she held on tight.

"I love you." She murmured into against his chest. Lee's mouth dropped open and he pulled back.

"What?" Lee asked, hoping to hell he hadn't imagined it.

"I loved him too,but all I kept thinking in the back of my mind was, what if it was you lying there. What if it was you we'd buried. Anyway, I just wanted you to know that." She pulled away from him and wiped her cheeks. "Thanks."

Lee could see the walls coming up, forcing her to make her words casual. He gripped her chin in his hands and kissed her softly, easing back he lifted her face to meet his eyes.

"I love you, Kara. I'm sorry I couldn't save him for you." Lee admitted when he saw the pain in her eyes.

She shook her head. "You don't get what I'm saying, as usual. I loved Sam. But what I feel for you it's..."

"Complicated?" Lee asked with a snort of laughter that Kara echoed.

"It's so far beyond that...love. It's so different from what I feel...felt for Sam. Does that make sense? It's painful and messy and frightening as shit. And alive. That's it, Lee. That's how I feel about you. I feel alive and if it had been you who'd died, that would have been it for me. I loved him but I'm in love with you. Got it?"

"Loud and clear, Lieutenant." Lee replied with a wide grin. "So let me get this straight. You love me. You, Kara Thrace, love me." Lee added with a teasing lilt to his voice that echoed her earlier reaction to the time he'd blurted out that he loved her and then tried to cover it up by making it a declaration of friendship.

Kara narrowed her eyes at him and pushed herself up on her knees, poking him in the chest. "You're such a twelve year old."

"No it's cute really. You love me." Lee replied feeling as if he didn't need the raptor they hade hidden to take everybody home, he could just have them hop on his back and he'd fly them all home on this amazing feeling. She knocked him onto his back.

"You're dreaming it, Apollo." Kara hovered over him, straddling him between her thighs.

"Ah, no take backs, sorry. You love me."

Kara lowered her mouth to his and dropped small kisses on his lips and jaw. Then pressed her forehead to his, eyes meeting his hopefully.

"I love you too. I'm ass backwards in love with you, Kara and there are definitely no take backs." He wove his fingers into her hair and thrust his tongue into her mouth to claim her. When he finally pulled back to breathe, there tears in her eyes again.

"Is this okay? He just died and...my Gods...I don't think I've ever felt so happy." Kara blinked. "I feel terrible because he's gone but I feel like there's hope for something good again."

"What if he was still alive, Kara?" Lee asked. For some reason, the answer didn't scare him as it should have.

She stroked his face with her fingers. "He's not you. I saw that the second I came back and you wrapped your arms around me and I knew I was home. But I thought...thought you didn't want me so I figured I had a chance to have something good and healthy for once with Sam. I'd take it. But you'd always be there. Here." Kara took his hand and placed it on her chest, over her heart. "But he's always gonna be here too. Just like Zak. Are you okay with that?"

Lee ran his fingers along her spine and sighed. "Yeah. Just as long as I know I'm not playing second to your ghosts."

"Never. You were never second even when they were alive." She assured him kissing him.

"Good. Then nothing else matters here but us making each other happy, except...well..." Lee grimaced.

"What?" Kara asked, wide eyes clouding with concern.

"My dad. He's gonna shit himself when he finds out about us."

"Well, something tells me the old man is not as oblivious as his son is." Kara said with a sigh as she lay against him.

"Thanks." Lee said sarcastically. He wrapped his arms around her and felt her body grow heavier as sleep claimed her. He debated whether moving themselves some place more comfortable and risk waking her from her much needed rest or staying put.

He stayed put, despite the pebbles digging into his ass and the heat beginning to bear down on them yet again.

When Kara woke, she pulled Lee to his feet and towards a more private place.

"I had the best dream." She said when they reached a spot hidden further away from the group.

"Oh yeah?" He asked groggily, having been enjoying a few minutes of sleep as well. Parts of him coming immediately awake as she pulled his tanks up over his head. "Kara, are you sure-?"

"We were making love in the water. And you were all wet and warm beneath my fingers, the sun on your back." She pulled his pants down. "Does that sounds good? You know water means re-birth, right?" Kara asked him as she removed her own clothes.

"Uh huh." Lee nodded, not sure what the hell she'd just said beyond 'making love in the water'.

The water came up to their knees. Kara rested herself on the bank, half in and out of the water and opened herself up for Lee to settle in between her legs. Rocks and dirt beneath them but cool clear water surrounding them, growing warmer as the sun grew in intensity. Or maybe it was them. Lee slid inside of her and Kara buried her face in his neck, he felt her smile against his skin as she urged him on. "More...more..."She sighed. He tilted her back and closed his mouth over one of her breasts suckling her as his thrusts grew harder, deeper. Her skin was slippery and flushed beautifully, her hair nearly brown and her mouth swollen from him. "Ah Gods, Lee...yes...oh yes..." His tongue teased her nipple, his teeth drawing it tight. He squeezed her bottom, rocking slowly, deeply into her. There was no rush now.

"Tell me again, Kara." Lee whispered against her mouth, feeling her begin to shake beneath him. Her legs tightened around his waist.

"I love you, Lee. So much...oh...so much..."

"This much?" Lee asked thrusting hard and then withdrawing.

"Yes." She sighed.

"I love you this much." He pushed into her knowing he didn't have to drive anyone from her mind. Or from her heart.

They came together, limbs wrapped tight against each other. He held her close to him, running his mouth down the side of her neck, catching droplets of water that tasted of Kara.

"Maybe we could just live here, in the stream." Kara suggested nuzzling his neck.

"We could. But don't you wanna see the look on Tigh's face when we get back?"

"Oh ew. Tigh. Definite arousal killer. Nicely done." Kara screwed up her face in annoyance.

"Ah you know me, I know all your buttons." Lee reminded her.

She gave him a bright, dirty grin.

"Home?" Lee asked kissing her cheek.

"Home." Kara nodded, kissing his forehead.

The End