Crude stone bench under my ass, it's cold but the sun is warm so it's ok.
My children are beautiful. I say that as a mother but I know it's true regardless who is looking at them. I can see their father in them at first I thought it would be easier to see myself in the girl, she is definitely more my complexion. But her jaw is harder, her eyes pale and she clenches and frowns just like Lee.
His sons are all beauty and passion, both are sweet to a fault. Eos' temper is just as sharp as his sisters, but his forgiveness immediate after his release. He doesn't clench, he smiles a wicked smile and tries to make you forget what started the problem. He has a hell of a punch for a child. He has clobbered Archer a couple times. She never cries she just sets her jaw and runs to me. He follows and hovers wanting to help her, truly sorry that he hit her. They never really need me to fix it, she forgives even as his skin leaves hers.
The baby, Nix, who is three, is on a blanket sleeping in the sun. He is a vision of health. He is going to be taller than the twins and broader as well. I'd say he looks kind of like Zak but I suspect he looks like his grandpa. He has the Admiral's temperament as well. Quiet and thoughtful but explosive if pushed too far.
The Day of the New Sun, tomorrow makes number 5.
Festival established by our beloved president. Though he never gets to remember the day itself, he has declared it a religious holiday and no one dares deny him.
I wish we were allowed to be together. I wish I could feel his hands on me for once. Still it is worth it that we are allowed to live that we have a home. That every once and a while I get to sit with him and chat.
Giggles and singing from my little boy and soft murmurs from my girl as they play in the grass with the toys that Tyrol made them, little metal vipers cast from Lee's own ship. It's funny I never realized just how things effected the Chief, and how much symbols meant to him. He is one of Lee's closest friends and he dotes on the children like an uncle.
The soft, lilac laced wind blows the blanket off of Nix and go and tuck him back under it when I hear the whistle. It's low and soft and the song is one that brings tears to my eyes. The twins look up smiles breaking across their faces.
He will be surprised, that I am here already and that I sent the nurse home. Archer stands and smiles. She comes to my side and completes me with her fingers in mine. Eos bounces up and I hear Lee's whistling stop and the soft giggles of tickling take its place. When he looks up to find Archer he meets my eyes and I see the relief followed by the pain I have always caused him. The smile he gives me has tears in it. I know he wants to run to me and take me in his arms and lords know my body is aching for it, my spirit is.
Archer squeezes my fingers and pulls me a little. I look down and she nods toward her father. The twins know that Lee and I can't touch. They of course don't understand it. They don't know why it hurts so much, to be so close and so far at the same time.
I follow my little blond girlie to her father and stand before him where he is holding her brother, golden boy that he is on his hip.
It has been a year since I saw him in person, though the last time was short lived and the gods took over nearly immediately. He has aged a little, the kink in his brow is a little deeper, lines around his mouth are longer. But he has a tan, is not spacer pale like he had been and has gained back all the weight he had lost. He looks, well he looks painfully sexy with the sun kissing his cheeks and reflecting in his glacier blue eyes. There is an electric spark trickling up my spine and I step back from him, so I can stay with him. The gods are hungry, it's been a year since the last festival, and longer than that since we were sentient together.
"Kara." His voice makes the spark spread. Archer suddenly squeezes my hand and the pulse changes to a simple shiver. She reaches up and pulls on EJ's foot. He smiles down at her and nods.
They are acting weird. They haven't said much of anything at all.
He wiggles and Lee sets him down on the ground. He takes Lee's hand grinning and with his other hand takes mine. I feel the shiver, again this time it feels like release. I look at him and his blue eyes sparkle like his father's and an impish look takes up residence on his little face. He looks like a sprite, and like he is up to no good.
He drops Lee's hand and takes Archer's, who had dropped mine and taken Lee's
I figure they are playing some sort of game. So I smile and look at Lee questioningly to see if he knew how to play. He is looking as perplexed as I feel when they speak.
"We will stay here tonight, your children have requested you have a reprieve and have offered themselves on the eve of the festival for our vessels, it has been so long since we have played, please accept this gift?"
Suddenly I realize I don't feel the energy anymore. It is scary.
"You won't hurt them…they are only babies, they don't know what you can do." I suddenly fear for them with my entire being.
"The rules are different for innocent souls, Avatar. We are not allowed to manipulate them. We can only see through their eyes. And you should know, that your children know more than you think they do."
When Archer speaks I realize she is Artemis, she is her father's daughter.
"Fear not Mother, I would never let anything befall our dearest loves." I look into the silver eyes and I am reassured.
Lee is standing with his jaw hanging.
"You have until sunrise tomorrow and then you fulfill our pact." EJ's voice drips sunlight and honey, invokes warm breezes.
Lee is cooking dinner and I am having a hard time. I don't know what to do with myself. We had decided that given this reprieve we would do what our hearts desired. We would have one night, as a family as a normal family.
Dinner smells really good and I realize it has been a very long time since I had real food. I also realize that I haven't had Lee's cooking since we roomed together back in the academy. I knew some things were different, they had found a pepper substitute that was similar but a lot hotter than the variety we used back on the colonies. Pepper is Lee's favorite spice so I wonder how he has adjusted.
The twins are playing with the dog. I am somewhat surprised they have one. He is a big scary looking animal. He looks like some sort of indigenous breed his coat suited for the warm weather, he is a golden red color with amber eyes lined with black and upright ears. He hadn't barked when I came in, he had put himself between me and the kids immediately and his gaze and the way his hackles rose had indicated he wouldn't let me closer until the nurse had 'introduced' us.
The dog seemed to be obsessive-compulsive. The twins were having it fetch a soft toy over and over and it kept bringing it back no matter where they threw it and dropped it in alternating laps. Lee had called it Nero. It answered to him not unlike his pilots used to, would stand at attention and wait for orders. He told me the word for the dog to release was 'drop' which even Nix knew and said when the dog would pick things up that the baby was playing with.
I hover behind him as he chops what looks like a form of onion, or scallion. And I keep my hand entwined with his and hold things for him while he cuts with his free hand like we are a two headed monster. The hand holding eventually works into arms around each others waists as I try to impede every part of his dinner prep.
When we sit down to eat, for the first time ever all together I am not all surprised when Lee bows his head, I follow and before we can start the prayer the twins sing a strange verse and smile at our shocked faces.
"Welcome, most blessed family of the Gods."
With sounding brass, and the tinkling of cymbals my offspring both looked skyward, the glass in the window frames shook. They were the voices of children, but engorged with the blessing of the Gods. Lee winced and a look of concern crossed his features.
We ate while the twins smiled and seemed to go back to being normal children again. Lee's foot found mine under the table and we sat with the warmth spreading up our legs from where our ankles were touching. It wasn't erotic, it was comfort on such a basic level it made me want to crawl into the space where we were touching and stay there.
The main course was some sort of game bird and it was fabulous. Rations, oh my gods, I live on rations and they eat this every day? I expressed this thought to Lee and he smiles smugly as Nix announces that Daddy cooks better than Ginny (the nurse) or Sharon or Grandpa or Uncle T. The last part is said with a grimace as if it were a seriously bad thing. The Twins giggle. I suddenly wonder where the old man was, I knew he had been living with Lee and the kids.
"Where is Grandpa?" I look across the table at Lee who is pushing stuff around on his plate like a little kid and not eating it, while his leg rubs against mine and his free hand is catching the things that Nix is dropping for the dog.
His hair is long and all sorts of mussed from me messing with it while he was cooking, and he has a smudge of something that Nix had tried to throw on his cheek, He has never looked more handsome.
"He is at his 'lady-friends' house" Archer offers. I choke and Lee chuckles.
"You are kidding me…lady friend?"
"Chloe…she teaches us piano." I choke again and can't believe my ears. Lee's expression tells me that I have assumed correctly about the mystery lady's identity.
"She is half his age, or less…" I try to remember her clearly and find the image is too young, too well, sexy for it to jive with my image of the old man, I take a hasty drink of water.
"Love is blind…" Lee smiles at me and I know he has given his support to this. I just shake my head, I have missed out on so much.
After dinner, after we clean up the twins sit down at the piano. Lee tells them they don't have to, but they want to show off for mommy, and I think the Gods may have been pushing a little.
They play together beautifully, Eos is fantastically talented, I have a spark of memory of my father playing and it brings tears to my eyes. Archer is equally as talented, but not as showy, she plays perfectly, but her body doesn't sway like Ej's does, her eyes don't close and she doesn't get the transcendent look like he does.
When my oldest boy starts singing, and Archer's eyes move to him and her body leans into him I realize that 5 year olds should not be able to play or sing like this. I look at Lee to see if this is as shocking to him and am surprised that he is rocking Nix in time with the nursery rhyme they are playing and I can hear soft humming as if this was something they did every night.
I wonder if Lee realizes that they shouldn't be that good. I realize if he had, he made peace with it long ago, he accepts it, enjoys and encourages it.
It wasn't the Gods, it was really my children.
Nix's brown eyes are locked on me and I realize this baby has been raised by his father since he was born and barely knows me. I feel my heart ache and as his lids appear to get heavy while the music continues I want to hold him and apologize that I haven't been here.
I lean into Lee, where our hands are clasped and he meets my eyes and I ask with out saying a word and he leans down and whispers into the 2 year olds ear. He is rewarded with a big sheepish smile and I am again reminded of Zak, the baby curves of his face were probably to blame. He looks at me shyly and I open my arms to him.
I rock my youngest son to sleep for the first time in his life. He smells of Lee and whatever soap Lee washed him down with after dinner, it had a vanilla smell to it, and cotton. After the twins join us on the couch, (which had been in the Old Man's Office on Galactica) Lee reads them a story, one they obviously had heard several times as they kept finishing the sentences. It was about pirates, they filled in Arrghs and Harr Harrs, at will. I held the warm little tike to me and kept rocking though he was long gone off to sleep.
Lee kept looking up at me and finally as he neared the end of the story and the twins were blinking and fighting sleep themselves he speaks to me.
"I know this isn't what you want out of life Kara, but thank you. If I didn't have this, I don't think I would have made it…" He closes the book and single handedly, after dropping my hand, picks up both sleepy twins and they drape themselves over each of his hips like this is a normal thing, and carries them to their bed. I follow with the little one trying not to cry, not to let this sink into my heart and change who I am.
This isn't happy ever after, tomorrow we go back to not being able to touch, and my heart can't take that on a daily basis.
The twins still sleep in a single bed. Though there are two in the room.
Nix is still in a crib and when I lay him down, the emptiness in my arms hurts.
The president's bedroom, is in the loft. It is a big room with windows that look out over the lake behind the house. There are double doors that open out onto a balcony built on top of the kitchen area. It has a rustic wild feel like it was a resort instead of a real home. I realize it is facing east, and that Apollo's Sun would flood it every morning.
Lee sleeps on a pallet on the floor, its soft enough looking and plenty big but it is obvious he spent more thought on the kids' beds. I am tickled about one thing though. He has white linens, pillows and all that, but the comforter is expansive, and a bright cobalt blue. I can never explain how happy that makes me, or exactly why.
He has books stacked up against the battery powered lamp next to where he sleeps. I know that is a big deal, books are not common, these are probably worth a lot of money. When I start looking at them I recognize most from the Old Man's office, and some had Laura Roslin written in the back cover.
He lets go of my hand to go shower and I sit for a minute trying to decide if it will hurt more to touch him and wake up without him, Sun-up would see me gone and Apollo in my body. Or if I should keep the indulgence down and have a quick hug and go sleep on the couch. It is going to tear my heart out to lose him again.
I realize I don't care, I want him I want every part, even the pain.
I enter his small bathroom following the sound of the water, and strip down. I can see myself in the fogging mirror…I have aged as well. My breasts, two births past are softer and larger than they had been. My body is still hard because of being on Galactica and working on it constantly, I am thinner than I have ever been, but there are a couple stretch marks left from the twins on my otherwise taught skin. I am pale as death, spacers tan. My hair is mid back length and I wear it braided to keep it neat.
There are dark circles under my eyes.
I start to cry, I am not good enough for this man, I have never deserved him.
I don't hear the water shut off but as I go to pick up my clothes and leave I feel his arm come around my shoulders. His wet skin warm and comforting, his expression concerned. When he sees I am crying, he runs his fingers down my face and picks me up and takes me into the shower with him. As I cry softly, he washes away all my pain, all my sins, all my sorrow. His diligent fingers working the vanilla soap into me and stroking it back off with splashes of copious amounts of warm, almost hot water. He warms the space off of me, and in me. I was stupid to think being away from him would make all of this hurt less.
He towels me like he would his children, rough and thorough. He is smiling and the wrinkles at the corners of his eyes make my heart flutter. We are both 35, but I feel 100.
He looks at me after the drying and grins. I wrap the towel around my chest, it falls to my mid thigh, these are not the tiny Galactica towels. I plan silently to steal one.
"I have something for you. I was going to send it to you, but since you're here…"
He digs around under the sink and I smile as he produces a bottle of lotion, it's a brand the hotels used, back before, but the label says 'Juniper" on it. I grin.
"Where the frak did you find that?"
"I am the president Kara…I know you just had a birthday so I sent out word a while back…it took a lot of favors and some quick talking to get it." He smirks and I know he isn't lying.
"Gods I haven't used that fragrance, since…"
"…we roomed together…" I see him blush. I realize he has loved me just as long I have him.
I move to him and take the bottle from him, it's small, but it's precious. I kiss the tip of his nose tentatively feeling strangely shy about it. Good Gods this is the father of my children and I feel like I barely know him, and yet I know him better than myself.
He holds out his hand palm up and I smile and he nods his chin at the lotion.
"I'll get your back, 'buck." The old business like manner made my pulse spike. It is like just him reverting to my calls sign erased the years and the pain. I fill his palm with some of the precious lotion and take a deep breath as he warms it between his hands before starting on my back.
I feel the strong press of his fingers and the deep kneeding strokes loosen my whole being as he lavishes me with attention. I have never felt like this. I try not to think too much or I will cry. Ever second we have is beyond precious, I vow not to forget a single one.
The smell makes me think of times he had done this to me years ago, it is clean and wholesome innocent. I am shocked to realize that he had been telling me then he loved me, though the moments had been fraught with teasing, pinching and laughter he had assumed I knew. I thought of Zak and when he told me he loved me and the sense of déjà vu it evoked. All these years later I know, it's because I knew what it meant when an Adama said he loved you, I had just never heard it with my ears.
He is humming and I feel his breath on my neck as he circles his fingers on the bones at my nape working out the tension, feeling me give and relax under his fingers.
"How long have you been planning this scenario?" I joke, knowing he had no way of knowing he would ever touch me again in his life time.
"Since I was 15…" He laughs.
I hear him suck in a breath and he grabs my shoulders and turns me, we are standing chest to chest, towel slung around his hip the only thing between us. He searches my eyes.
" I just want to hold you, to let you touch me until I disappear. We don't have to make love, Just holding you is enough."
I see tears I know he feels like I do about how the Gods use us, we don't get anything but the after effects, we end up sore and achy and on occasion pregnant. I always catalog the bruises, Artemis is a thorough, forceful lover. I note them and try to picture Lee making them. It's all I have in the aftermath. He wants to make sure I know its him…not Her.
"You think I would pass up, one second of skin on skin with you Apollo? Starbuck maybe a mother and getting old, but She aint dead…"
I grin I know tomorrow will be spent frakking and walking among the people in almost no clothes, being touched and blessing things, and my soul will be soaked in the power of my sun.
I will be hot and passionately consumed in creativity drenched in life with lava in my veins. The festival will end with Lee separating from me, tearing himself apart and plunging me into a frozen lake of loneliness.
He points at himself with mock seriousness
He taps me on my chest resoundingly. Makes a circle with his arms and looks at me.
"…Right here…" He is motioning at the space between his arms.
I laugh and move into the space indicated feeling him sigh. I can't help myself I grab that stupid, way too big towel and pull the damn thing so it unravels and hits the floor with a soft slithering sound.
He shudders as the cool air hits his ass and I giggle as he grips me tighter, pressing his chin to my temple. I feel like I could stand like this until the sun comes up. The thought slaps me in the face, I have done that with him before, I wont get the cup of coffee this time, I finger the tattoo on his hip bone, without looking and I feel him smile, I know he is remembering.
"It is here…I'll be with you…"He touches my chest, where my heart is, through the ring hanging on the chain with my dog tags. His voice resonates with promise. For the first time in my whole life I make a connection that has been eluding me all along. He is both the light and the dark, he is the angel stripped bare, he is both brothers, and my twin as well. He is so many parts, and has been alone through it all.
He is the supporting actor in a play he has never been able to do more than fill in. He accepted it waiting for his moment in the spotlight. I had been the star, loved by his brother, his father, by him. I had danced around our worlds doing what I felt I needed to keep him safe, and he never wanted it. He wanted to play the role, he wanted a chance to deny that destiny. I had assumed I knew better. Who am I to deny him?
I am an aggressive, possessive woman. I have issues. It is not an excuse, it's a fact. I love this man. The summer days in his eyes are endless. I will not walk away from him this time without promising him I will be here when he needs me.
"Will you marry me?" I feel my voice crack, the tears drip unheeded.
He pulls in a shocked breath and pulls back to look at me.
"We pledged…for the colonies, remember?"
"We did it for the religious sects, I am asking you…to be mine, locked in this pain of not having, forever…Be mine and mine alone."
"Kara Thrace-Adama, you have already had me, there was never a choice."
"But I walked out on you…"
"I let you…"
"Like you always have…"
I see it wound him, I see him register it as an accusation. I take his chin between my fingers and pull his fore head to mine.
"You thought you had to."
His blue eyes are huge and liquid. The tips of our noses are touching and I see the truth that I already know. I pull back slightly to look at his lips pulled straight and serious starting to frown.
"You and no other…" My whisper is throaty and full of everything I feel.
He closes his eyes and it looks like all of his muscles go slack. When he opens them, it is slowly, carefully, as if he is afraid he is dreaming. I am holding my breath.
"Vous et nul autre…" He places a fluttering kiss on each of my eyelids as I accept it.
Thump, Thump, and the sound of something dragging across the floor.
I look down to where Lee is kissing the inside of my elbow his eyes meet mine and I see him smirk. He presses his finger against his lips to shush me and stands up pulling me up into his arms as he looks at the clock. The secretive gentle grin has me feeling like a child about to see something wonderful. He grabs that blue comforter and wraps us in it and tip toes us down the stairs to look in on the kids. I start to panic when I see that Archer and Eos aren't in their bed. Lee covers my mouth with his hand winking and shaking his head.
We slink down the dark hallway like a giant parade float, blanket draped over our nakedness. When we get to Phoenix's room he kisses me quick and gives me the shush finger again.
There is a chair up against the crib, Nix is 3 but the crib was big so Lee hadn't moved him out of it yet.
Good thing it was big.
All three of the kids were in it. Archer and EJ were on either side of the little one, their arms draped around him, snuggled protectively, completely asleep.
I look at Lee and he is smiling indulgently. Nix's eyes flicker open for a second as Lee covers them all up with a blanket.
"I know baby, are you ok now?"
"Yeah, Ah-sher and JJ here…" As if that solved everything. He is playing with Archer's hair and EJ rolls away slightly griping a stuffed animal and I freeze. If Archer and Nix traded places it would be reminiscent of that picture of Lee, Zak and I.
I kiss them all. I ache somewhere deep and I take Lee's hand and lead him away. I need something from him, something that will make this not be a repeating nightmare for my children. I know it's different, but it is still hauntingly familiar.
I press my fingers into his Tattoo as we reach the bottom of the stairs.
"Maybe, this is for them…" I whisper. He looks lost but I take his hands in mine and wind my fingers through his. "Lee Adama, do you think you can give me another baby?" He blinks, shocked and swallows, I tilt my chin issuing him a challenge and he was never one to turn down anything of the sort.
"Oh, Mrs. Adama I can damn well try my best."
He picks me up and I was wrong about everything. It doesn't make it worse. I will get this, this time I memorize all the things he does to me, the way he feels, smells, tastes. If I never have it again I will have this and damn it, I will make it be enough.