Mystic83 totally inspired this.Nectar
What if the Cylons never attacked?Chapter One
The clock on the wall said 4:25 when he finished counting the receipts and closing the bar for the night. He sent the last of the staff home at 3:30, once the place was clean. It was a good take; the night was busy, even for a Friday. He grabbed his jacket from the hook behind the bar and headed out the door, setting the alarm as he went. The night air was warm as he rode home, and the sun was just beginning to touch the edge of the horizon. His bike purred beneath him as he maneuvered the curvy road that led to his home. As he pulled into the driveway, the sunrise tinted the sky a rosy pink.
His home was modest, but comfortable. When he purchased it he was more interested in the large piece of land it sat on, and the solitude it would afford him, than in the structure itself, but over time he had grown to appreciate it. He enjoyed spending his rare days off puttering between projects, and he was proud of the improvements he made, inside and out. He parked his bike in the garage, among his tools and pieces of various items he was working on. He kept most things in his life very orderly, possibly to a fault, at times, but his garage was a chaotic jumble. Wood was stacked in every corner, screws and sockets were scattered across his workbench and at least seven projects in various stages of completion filled the surfaces and floor. Somehow, in here, the clutter helped him focus, kept him inspired and creative. The scent of sawdust tempted him to make a few more cuts on the pieces of the dining table he was crafting, but the he had to be back at the bar by noon, and if he started now, he's be up for hours. He gave his shop one last, wistful glance before entering the house. He paused in the mudroom to kick his shoes off and hang up his jacket before proceeding through the door to the kitchen. He grabbed a beer from the fridge and sat at the island while he sipped it. He watched the sun come up through the trees that lined the east end of his property through the large window above the sink. He drank about half of his beer and poured the rest down the sink, tossing the bottle in a bin under the counter. He rolled his shoulders and tried to knead the knots out of his neck, wincing as he thumbed a particularly stubborn kink. He noted a new creak in the floorboards of the hall as he padded towards the stairs. He stripped to his boxers, hanging his suit carefully with the other clothing that needed to go to the cleaners, before he turned back the bedspread and settled into the mattress. He managed to read a few pages of the book he was reading before his eyes became to heavy to stay open.
He woke before his alarm and rolled out of bed. He showered, shaved and dressed in a crisp charcoal suit; different from the navy one he had worn the night before only in color. He drank a cup of coffee as he listened to Talk News.
He liked his life. It had been much easier than he thought it would be to leave the military behind him. He had resigned shortly after the Galactica was decommissioned, and spent the following year working two jobs to gather a large enough down payment for the bar. The next year was spent getting the place off the ground, and in the three years since he had nurtured it into a success. It started to turn a profit early in the first year it was open, and had done better each successive year. It kept him busy, and he liked to be busy.
He rinsed his mug and dropped it into the dishwasher before he headed out the door.
He arrived at work an hour or so before the rest of the staff, and began the process of opening the bar. He was rolling a keg from the cooler to the tap when his head bartender came in.
"Hey, Lee," she nodded at him as she headed to the back.
"Hey, Tam." He fiddled with the keg until it was in place, and turned for the kitchen.
"Lee? Did you order more whiskey? The C-Bucks play tonight and I know we're going to get a rush on shots. I opened the last case last night."
"Yeah, said they'd get it out before 5. Do you have enough lime?" he asked as he looked over her shoulder as she prepped the garnish tray. "I think there's a case in the cooler downstairs, if you need more."
Slowly, the wait staff and kitchen crew arrived and soon every area of the building was buzzing with activity. He made his rounds and supervised the various tasks his crew performed, pausing to chat or laugh with his employees. Right at three, he flipped on the sign and moved to his office to do paperwork before the customers started shuffling in.
He made it out to the main area by four. They had about ten customers, mostly regulars who spend most afternoons here. Lee chatted with each cluster of guests as the Saturday crowd began filling up the place.
"Adama! What's a man have to do to get a drink around here?" Lee turned to see a couple of men he had served with on the Atlantia. He smiled broadly at them as they greeted each other. He moved behind the bar and poured each man a glass of his best ambrosia. "You are a man among men, Adama." Hardball, the pilot nearest him, sniffed the liquid deeply. "Hey, this is the good shit." The men downed their drinks in a swallow; Lee refilled them with a chuckle.
"Look at you," Sharkbite, the smaller of the two raised his glass to his old friend. "You look like a banker. This place must be doing okay."
"A banker, huh?" He filled their glasses again. "You around for the game?"
"Yeah, we both had some leave stored up, so we came to check out the play offs. Team looks good this year, I think the C-Bucks could go all the way."
"Don't listen to him, Adama. There's no way. Anders is older than dirt; no way his knee's going to hold out. It's the Warriors, all the way."
"I wouldn't say that too loudly in here," Lee laughed, pointing to the various C-Buck memorabilia hanging around the bar. A group of three women entered the bar and his friends turned towards them simultaneously. Hardball absently tossed a handful of cubits on the bar as he stood to approach them, Sharkbite on his heels.
"Ladies! My gods, you look thirsty! Let my friend and I here help you out with that. It's our job to serve and protect colonial citizens." He slid an arm around one of the women and walked with her to a booth. The tables and stools began filling quickly and soon he was too busy to note the passage of time. He marked the evening by the crowd, the pyramid fans without tickets started coming in about an hour before the game and the bar was abuzz with cheering and chatter. After the game, people who attended at the stadium around the corner started streaming in, followed an hour or so later by the team themselves. Lee greeted them each personally and congratulated them on the win. He signaled Tam to bring over a few pitchers. He was moving towards the bar to help Tam when he caught a glimpse of blonde hair in his peripheral vision. He tried to stop himself from turning, years of false alarms should have prevented him from looking closer every time he saw a blonde woman, but he looked anyway. She had her back to him, but the hair was the right color and the lines of her back and shoulders were just like he remembered. He waited and stared, willing the gods to make her turn just a little bit.
After a few agonizing seconds, she turned and said something to the man next to her and his heart jumped. She threw her head back in a laugh, and as she straightened, he saw her double take, and knew that she had seen him too. Her eyes widened and she arched an eyebrow at him. He felt a grin spread across his face and he started towards her. A look combining panic, confusion and something else he couldn't identify flashed across her face before she broke into a large smile. She turned away from her group and met him in the center of the bar in a hug.
"Kara," he started, pulling back from her and taking her in. "You look fantastic." Her hair was longer than he remembered it, nearly touching her shoulders and falling around her face in soft waves. She wore a simple black sheath and just a hint of makeup. She was even more beautiful than he remembered her to be.
"You don't look so bad yourself." She ran her hand along the sleeve of his jacket. "If this suit is any indication, you must be doing okay for yourself."
"Things are good." He paused. "Gods, Kara, it's been a long time."
"I know," she replied softly. "Five years."
"What brings you to Caprica?" He knew she had lived on Aerilon for a while after she resigned, but he lost track of her several years before.
"I just moved back a few weeks ago."
"Lee! Kitchen needs you," Tam called to him from behind the bar. He turned towards her and nodded.
"Kara, can you wait? I have to take care of this. Shouldn't take too long." He reached for her hand.
"Is this place yours?" She looked around the large room, wide eyed. He nodded, slightly. "You did it, you own a bar?" He grinned. "Good for you." She squeezed his hand before he ran off to the kitchen.
His tasks multiplied as soon as he hit the kitchen door, and it was well over an hour before he emerged again. He scanned the room, but didn't see her. His shoulders slumped slightly before he was called to handle the next crisis. He ended up in the kitchen for the majority of the rest of the evening when one of his chefs got ill. Normally he enjoyed stepping in, but tonight he was agitated with each small task. He finally made it back to the front just as Tam was making last call. The crowd had almost completely thinned out when he saw her again, sitting on the last stool at the bar, chatting with Tam and Evelyn, the hostess. Tam looked up to see the grin on his face and winked at him. Kara turned and put a look of mock indignation on her face.
"Holy frak, Lee. Tell me to wait for you and then you disappear for three hours. You're lucky I didn't run off with one of the drunk C-Bucks." She rolled her eyes at Tam, grinning.
Evelyn stepped from behind Kara and settled onto a stool after the last customer had left. "We like your friend, Lee." She shot him an inquiring glance. Tam and Evelyn were consistently trying to hook him up with one woman or another, but he usually brushed off their offers. He certainly hadn't been celibate in the time since he left the service, but he hadn't actually dated anyone for any length of time, either. He'd just never clicked with any of the woman he dated, at least not in a way that made him want to pursue anything other than a casual fling. Tam told him repeatedly that he just didn't know what he wanted, but she couldn't have been farther from the mark. He knew exactly what he wanted, and she was sitting on a barstool not ten feet from him.
He'd known since the first time he laid eyes on her, draped across his brother's lap on a picnic blanket, her head thrown back in the most unselfconscious laugh he'd ever heard. Zak had insisted Lee meet his new girlfriend; told him she was the most amazing woman he'd ever met. After spending fifteen minutes with her, he couldn't agree more. By the time they started digging into the picnic basket, he found himself imagining what her skin would feel like under his hand; what her tongue would feel like, tracing his ear and what noises she would make if he kissed her right there. More than once, he caught her looking back at him, but she would quickly turn and give Zak a nuzzle, or brush her lips across his neck, each time she did his heart ached a little. At the end of the meal, he offered her a hand to help her get to her feet. When her hand slipped into his, he felt a shock run through his body and he drew his breath in sharply, before he was able to control it. Her eyes locked into his as she stood, and he knew she felt it, too. She jumped back from him slightly, and they both looked to Zak guiltily, relieved to see his back was turned, loading supplies back into the basket. They shared one more glance before she turned back to his brother, wrapping her arms around his waist.
After the picnic, the three of them became almost inseparable. Lee and Kara never spoke of the palpable emotion between them, but they continued to catch the other staring. Lee knew he should claim to be busy when Zak called to drag him off on one of their adventures, but his need to see her, to lock eyes with her even for a second, was greater than any reason his normally rational mind could concoct not to join them. He lived like that for over a year, coveting the frak out of his brother's girlfriend in between beating himself up with guilt and taking matters into his own hand in his morning shower. There was the random woman, who, if he squinted just right in a darkened room, could pass for the woman he really wanted to be touching, but none of them ever amounted to more that a temporary distraction. Still, despite all the angst and self-flagellation, he never felt more alive than when he was in her presence. She challenged him, she made him laugh, and she forced him to constantly push outside of his comfort zone. She may have been his brother's lover, but she was his best friend and at times he was sure that made their connection more sacred, even more intimate than the one she had with Zak.
The last time he saw them together was a week before Zak died. They had collectively consumed three bottles of cheap wine in Kara's tiny off campus apartment before Zak passed out in the bedroom. The two of them sat on her ratty couch, flipping through channels on her television and laughing hysterically at nothing in particular, until Zak yelled at them to shut the frak up so he could spin in peace. They settled into a comfortable silence. After a spell, she stood and turned to face him. She met his gaze for a long second, but she looked away from him before she spoke.
"We're engaged, Lee." She didn't wait for him to say anything as she quickly went into her bedroom and closed the door.
Now she was here, in front of him again after all these years, laughing the same unselfconscious laugh.
Tam and Evelyn excused themselves and disappeared to help the kitchen staff clean up. He moved behind the bar and poured them both an ambrosia before sitting on the stool next to hers. She grinned at him and turned her stool to face him, brushing his thigh slightly with her knee as she turned. "You look great, Lee. And this," she gestured broadly to encompass the room around them. "This is amazing."
"Thanks. It makes me happy. What about you? What are you doing with yourself?"
"Painting, mostly. I have a little gallery downtown that I share with a few other artists. I teach a few art classes at the studio and at the university. It makes me happy, too." She looked him up and down. "I missed you."
"Me, too. Why'd you stay away so long?" He hoped his voice didn't betray all of the emotions he was feeling.
"The last time we saw each other was pretty rough. I was pretty sure you never wanted to see me again." She ran her finger around the rim of her glass.
She had sat down with him and his father, before he had a chance to return to the Atlantia on the day of the decommissioning of Galactica, and told them both about passing Zak. Both men exploded in anger. He screamed at her, his father just told her to get out. She apologized, once to each of them, and she gave his father her resignation before she left the room, and shortly after, the ship. It didn't fix things, with his dad, but it set them on the right path. After Lee left the military, he and his dad slowly began to reconnect. Once he was free of his father's shadow, they were able to find other things they had in common, and that they actually enjoyed the other's company. They talked about Zak many times, and both of them gave up any anger or resentment they had towards Kara almost as soon as they realized she was really gone from their lives. She wasn't his only instructor, and both of them had known, at least on some level, that Zak wasn't cut out for the cockpit. By forgiving her, they were able to forgive each other.
"You were wrong." He met her eyes and smiled. She smiled back at him hesitantly.
"It's good to be wrong." She put her hand over his and absently began running her thumb over his knuckles.
"Hey Lee?" Tam returned from the kitchen. "Why don't you and Kara go ahead and leave? Evelyn and I can close the place up for the night."
"I should probably be getting home anyway," Kara squeezed his hand. "But I need to call a cab, I sent my friend home hours ago, and she drove. Can I use your phone?"
"I can take you home." He panicked a little, not wanting his time with her to be over yet. He saw Tam beam at him over Kara's shoulder and had to stifle a laugh.
"He's got a great bike, Kara. I've been begging him to let me take it out for years. Now, get out of here, both of you. Kara, it was great to meet you. I hope we see more of you. Lee, I'll see you Wednesday. Enjoy your time off." She winked at him when Kara wasn't looking.
Kara smiled widely at him and hopped off her stool. "You have a bike? You? That's kinda sexy, Adama." He blushed deeply and she laughed. She took a moment to run her eyes over him appraisingly. "You're just full of surprises."
He rose to join her, giving her a look of his own. He gently took her elbow and leaned into her. "You have no idea," he whispered in her ear. He felt her shiver slightly, and was pleased to see a flush rise up her neck. As he led her to the door, Evelyn and Tam watched them leave.
"That explains a lot," Tam said, wiping down the counter.
Evelyn grinned at her. "Did you see the way they looked at each other? Gods, I thought they were going to hop on the bar and frak each other senseless right in front of us."
Kara admired his bike to his satisfaction, before he handed her his helmet and swung his leg over it.
"Lee?" He looked at her. "How far is your place?"
His breath caught in his chest for a minute. "Uh, twenty minutes or so. Do, um, you want to go there?" He was certain he sounded like he was fifteen.
"Do you want me to?"
"Yes. I do." She smiled and slipped on his helmet. He tried not to stare as she hiked her dress up slightly and slid behind him on the bike. She wrapped her arms around him and they raced off.