To establish continuity, this takes place between "Home Pt. 2" and "Final Cut" in season one. All characters belong to BSG's creators, not me. I do this for fun, so please don't sue. Journalists don't make enough money anyhow.

XxXxXxXxX

Pain sucked.

Right now, Kara Thrace was far too familiar with the sensation of it running through her body. Her side ached abominably, to the point where she'd try shooting it off.

It could've been the weightlifting session she'd gotten into with Apollo last night. Kara snorted soft to herself, and then tried stretching out on her bunk, groaning the entire way. Session, her ass. A flat-out frakkin' challenge to the death was more like it. She'd lost track of who'd challenge whom to begin with, but by the time they'd been through, they'd hit every machine in the room, and invented a few little drills that didn't need any weights to be accomplished.

Anything to thrill the audience, which had grown to a considerable size by the time the two of them had wrapped up. Actually, Kara couldn't help but be a little shocked. She'd half-expected her back, her thighs, her knees and her shoulders to feel like this, too. Must've been the abdominal crunches they'd ended with. She'd finally had to call it quits at 110, giving Apollo the edge and a cheer from what she'd determined had to be a pretty biased crowd.

Frakkin' Adamas. Always had to be the best at everything. Even when she herself practically owned the gym these days. It just wasn't fair that pretty boy could come into town and take over on a whim. Granted, she thought with a smile, he wasn't too bad of a physical specimen. There had to be SOME reason the females in the crowd were cheering for him. Tight asses seemed to run in the family -- both figuratively and literally.

Kara snorted softly to herself. She'd have to remind Apollo of that later, when they went out on CAP and had plenty of time to burn. Besides, it never hurt to have the cold, hard vacuum of space between you and a superior officer when you were going to insult him.

Kara stretched again, and swallowed back a grimace. A few hours of flight and some verbal sparring would be the best way to make him pay for last night.

IF her stomach would let her get any sleep between now and the CAP, in any case. She pulled herself into a ball and pulled the blanket over her head, but as she did, she let out a low groan.

It didn't go unnoticed. A few bunks down, Hotdog's voice suddenly came to life.

"The great and mighty Starbuck...undone by stomach crunches."

The LAST thing she needed right now was a smartass nugget. Muttering epithets, she reached over and pulled the curtains shut against her bunk. Then, and only then, did she deign it time to offer a response.

"The great and mighty Starbuck...who will hang the next person who talks up by their toenails and use them for a punching bag."

The resulting silence was gratifyingly sweet.

XxXxXxXxX

"Pass the word for Lieutenant Thrace. Lieutenant Thrace, report to the flight deck immediately."

The words jarred Kara out of a sound sleep, disorienting her so badly that she sat straight up before she had any kind of grip on her bearings. Her forehead collided with the bottom of the bunk above her, and she collapsed back to the bunk, nauseous, dizzy and in pain.

"Frak!" her stomach knotting up on her, Kara swallowed back hard against the nausea, then forced her eyes open so she could see her chronometer. She blinked once and refocused her eyes. It read the same as it had the first time.

Two minutes before her scheduled launch time. Kara swore loudly, earning a few muffled exclamations from pilots trying to sleep, then smashed open her curtains and swung her feet to the floor...

...Only to keel over at the waist, her head spinning so bad that her stomach knotted in on itself. There was a fresh wave of pain from her side, and Kara felt the world swim away temporarily as the sensations overloaded her brain.

Suddenly, a hand squeezed her shoulder.

"Starbuck?" She looked up to find one of the other nuggets, Kat, staring at her with a look of horror and concern. Kara grimaced, and pulled herself upright. She would be damned if she'd worry the nuggets on top of losing face to Captain Tightass himself.

Grabbing onto the bunk above hers, Kara muscled herself to her feet. She instantly regretted it, as the world went grainy with clarity, and then started to fade away. Grey crowded into the edges of her vision, and only her locked knees kept her from sinking to the ground.

"Starbuck, sit down. Let me call sickbay." Kat was already moving toward the phone on the opposite wall, and as Kara's vision cleared, she could see curious faces looking out of at least three other bunks. She gritted her teeth, and reached out to snag Kat's shirt before she got too far.

"Not a chance in hell, Kat. I'm fine." Gods, Kara was anything but fine, but she'd be damned if she'd show it to this bunch. Frakkin nuggets already had too much ammunition from Apollo's little escapades last night, not to mention having seen their instructor grounded for the last month.

She struggled to her feet, this time gratifyingly without any nausea or sharp pain. Stumbling towards her locker, she glared at every last face she could see. She slammed open her locker for good measure, grabbed a handful of flight suit and her helmet, and turned on her heel for the hatch.

When she reached it, another spasm of pain tore through her side. This time, she refused to give into it. She clenched her right hand into a tight fist, digging the nails deep into her palm. As soon as the pain eased, she pushed open the hatch and put one foot out.

Before she put the other out, though, she turned and glared at the assembled audience - now everyone who was in the bunk area.

"Not a word of this," she hissed. "To anyone. Or I'll put you on latrine duty on the Astral Queen, so help me Lords."

XxXxXxXxX

Apollo stood at the periphery of the action on the flight deck, listening to the frantic voice on the other end of the phone. He had to resist a strong urge to start smacking his head repeatedly against the hatch.

Only you, Kara. Only Kara could do this to him. He swallowed his frustration and tried to find some level of calm to put into his voice.

"Kat, calm down. No, she's not going to send anyone to the Astral Queen. Yes, I know how she sounded. Trust me, she's always like that. Just trust me. I'll handle it."

He listened to the panicked nugget for a few more seconds, then heaved a short sigh.

"Kat, call sickbay and let them know I'll be down with Lieutenant Thrace. And then get yourself and Racetrack down here. You're on CAP as soon as you can get in your ships. Captain Adama out."

He hung up the phone, and leaned heavily against the wall. Only Kara would be this stupid. Her and her frakking pride. Ever since they'd gotten back from Kobol, she'd had a stick up her ass about not letting anyone see the slightest sign of weakness. He still hadn't gotten many details about Caprica out of her, though she and Helo had been debriefed fully on the Cylon plans for the planet. Lee, meanwhile, had found out a few very interesting little details about their ... personal exploits on the planet.

Gives a whole new meaning to love 'em and leave 'em, I guess.

And now she was trying to fly sick. Lee would take bets that nothing short of physical incapacity would ever keep Starbuck out of the cockpit ever again. It wasn't just pride -- it was that ever-present stubbornness that he swore would get her killed some day.

And it's going to take an order to get her to stand down. Lee pushed himself up and away from the wall, and gestured to the Chief, who was standing a discreet distance away. He had no doubt Tyrol had heard every word, and even less doubt that the small quirk on the Chief's face was seconds away from turning into a smirk.

Frak, Kara, why do you always have to do everything the hard way? Lee squared his shoulders and worked to put on his Captain Tightass face.

"Chief, let Hotdog and Lightman know they're going to have to stay out there for at least another 30 minutes. Land 'em when Kat and Racetrack are launched." Lee grabbed the chief's clipboard, and scrawled the authorization he knew the man would need. "Give Racetrack my viper, and Kat Lieutenant Thrace's."

"But, sir...you know how Starbuck--"

"Just do it, Chief." Lee fought the urge to roll his eyes. He'd fight the battle about putting someone else in Kara's viper later. Right now, he wanted to go find her and get her ass where it belonged -- in a bed in sickbay.

He turned and walked blindly toward the middeck hatch, hopping through it without even looking where he was going. As a result, he crashed head first into another figure - an immovable wall of a man in uniform blues and a pair of glasses perched on his nose.

He reached out and grabbed Lee's arm before he landed back on the floor.

"Going somewhere, Captain?" The note of amusement in his father's voice was unmistakeable.

XxXxXxXxX

Oh, Gods, I'm gonna throw up.

Kara staggered down the hallway leading toward the flight deck, no longer worried about anything but the pain in her side and the overwhelming feeling of nausea. She'd dropped her flight suit and helmet a few steps back, right about the time when her head started to spin and up became down.

Or down became up. Right now, she really wasn't sure which it was. Kara wrapped her right arm around her side and tried to pick an option that didn't involve making a mess on the deck. She could reverse direction and head for sickbay, but Kat and the nuggets would have a story to tell for weeks on end. Not that they didn't already, but she could try to limit the damage. Or she could just get down to the flight deck, and pray that Lee didn't make a huge deal out of this. He occasionally had tact -- when he wasn't trying to pry details about Caprica out of her brain.

Anders. Caprica. Gods...I can't deal with this anymore.

Kara's already burning stomach lurched again. She didn't want to deal with any of this. She just wanted to fly and forget. She swallowed hard against the bile, willing her stomach to sit still long enough for her to make a decision. She gripped hard at the small ledge on the wall as another wave of pain erupted from her side, setting off another wave of nausea and the overwhelming sensation of vertigo. in spite of herself, she let out a small whimper.

Someone just shoot me now. She wasn't going anywhere -- at least, not under her own accord. The dizziness and nausea wouldn't let her think, much less move. It was worse than being shot. Turning her back against the wall, Kara let herself slip down to the floor. She pulled her knees up to her chest and tried to find something to focus on other than the nausea.

Put it in a box. A nice, tidy, lead-lined box. She'd put it in one of its own, and stack it right next to one she kept her memories of Caprica in. Next to the box where she kept Anders--

"Kara?" She didn't even need to look up as the footsteps suddenly became apparent to her ears along with the voice. She'd know that annoying, angst-riden sound of concern anywhere. And when the person's hands closed gently around her head and lifted it, she saw the same look of worry to match the voice.

Lee. It would have to be Lee. She closed her eyes and groaned. She needed help, but she didn't want it from anyone. Least of all the one person who knew how much being weak would cost her. Suddenly, the edges of her reality began to blur - from the pain, from the nausea, and from the overload.

"Kara. Please tell me what's wrong?" She turned away, shaking her head. This wave of nausea, it wouldn't be denied. As the burning sensation flew up her throat, she prayed for a small hole to swallow her.

And as she fell sideways and emptied the contents of her stomach, her eyes flew open, and she saw a second pair of boots. Unable to stop herself, she heaved, her stomach turning over and over again.

And then there was a face, another familiar face, whose gentle concern made her pray not only for a hole, but for a swift and merciful death. Because that face belonged to the shoes she had just soiled.

And those shoes belonged to one Commander William Adama.

XxXxXxXxX

Lee Adama clenched and unclenched his fists around the railing of the bed in front him methodically, curling the knuckles around the metal, holding tight for a count of three, and then releasing his grip.

In front of him, Kara dozed quietly. She'd been in and out of consciousness several times since the anethesia had worn off, but gradually becoming more coherent. She muttered a few incomprehensible sentences, whimpered in a rather pathetic manner, and even thrown up twice -- an aftereffect of the anethesia, according to Doc Cottle.

"Of course, she's not puking on you or your father's shoes now. Which I could call an improvement, but I'd almost think you two would love to have the privledge again right now."

Cottle had smirked, and walked away. Soon after, William Adama had taken his leave, confident in his son's ability to look over the now-out-of-danger woman they both cared so deeply about.

Appendicitis. Lee had listened to Kat explain everything over the phone on the flight deck, and suspected immediately what the problem was. He'd also suspected it would be next to impossible to get Kara to admit that she was sick, and envisioned the battle from Hell trying to convince her to head for sickbay. Right now, all Kara seemed to want to do was torture herself for the crimes he suspected she'd endured and fleshed out on Caprica.

Of course, what he hadn't seen was Kara's surrender by puking. Puking all over his father's shoes -- something guaranteed to mortify her for the next millienium or so.

"Frak, Thrace, why do you always have to do things the hard way?" He hadn't even realized he'd spoken out loud until Kara groaned softly, turned her head and muttered at him.

"What was that?" He felt a small grin creeping onto his face. Finally, she seemed to be waking up.

"I said..." Kara's words were slow, methodical and appreciably gritted out through her teeth. "I don't do everything the hard way. Just..." Her eyes slid open, and then she grimaced. "Just not the easiest way."

Lee let his smile broaden just a little bit. It was good to have her back.

"I'd say." He unwrapped one hand from the railing and slipped it into her left, squeezing softly. "What the frak were you trying to prove, anyway?"

Kara tugged hand out of his and shot him a glare.

"I wasn't trying to PROVE anything. I just wanted to fly." She heaved a sigh. "What happened?"

Lee's response popped out with almost no thought.

"You're pregnant," he deadpanned.

Kara's eyes flew wide open for a moment, and then narrowed slowly.

"Be glad I've hit my quota for superior assholes, Lee." Her glare looked more than a little irritated now. "Seriously."

"Appendicitis. Pretty progressed. Doc Cottle said if he hadn't gotten in when he did, it would've ruptured fairly quickly." Lee blinked, suddenly serious at the thought of the implications of that statement. "He also took the time to inform us about the shortage of antibiotics in the fleet and how he quote, 'hates wasting drugs on stupid pilots who don't know any better than to report to sickbay when they're sick.' Unquote."

Kara sighed, and turned her head away slightly.

"Just...drop it." She closed her eyes again. "You don't want to listen to any of this anyhow."

A sudden flare of anger boiled in Lee's stomach. After the last 12 hours, both he and his father deserved a little better than this. And he would be damned if he'd let this drop just so she could ignore it and pull the same stunt the next time she was sick.

Lee grabbed her hand and tugged on it, forcing Kara's eyes to fly open and her head to snap back toward him.

"Lee, what--" He cut her off.

"Kara, listen to me. I don't know why I have to spell this out, but you could've died today because you were being stubborn and arrogant." Lee swallowed hard, trying to bite back the anger so it didn't cut her too harshly. "You know the rules as well as any pilot on this ship, even more so. And you were trying to sneak around them in a way that could've easily gotten you killed."

He paused to make sure he had her attention, and then asked.

"Why?"

Kara simply stared at him for a long moment, clearly stunned. When she finally answered, the response had none of the sarcasm or fire he'd expected.

"I learned a long time ago to compartmentalize the pain, Lee. So did you." She didn't break her eye contact, and her face took on the serious, honest gaze she used to bring home a point. "Put it in a box. One of the first things - one of the most important things - a pilot is taught in flight school. You learn to box away the pain, so you can function at your best."

Lee contemplated that for a moment.

"You're not just talking about the appendicitis, are you." It was a statement, not a question, and Kara's soft snort of laughter confirmed his suspicion.

"Score one for the flyboy." She gave him a sort of half smile, somewhere between being truly amused and caught out at whatever internal debate she'd been dealing with. "You read the reports from Caprica, Lee. Hell, you were in on the debriefing. Can you blame me?"

Lee shook his head.

"No, but I can get on you for not talking about it." Kara raised an eyebrow, and he continued. "Look, I know there's stuff you left out of the report. I know about Anders, okay?"

"Know what about Anders?" Kara's eyes narrowed when all Lee did was look back at her. "I swear, when I get out of here, Helo's going to find himself strung up by his--"

"It wasn't Helo." And it hadn't been, but Kara didn't really need to know who had been behind it. He plowed forward. "I don't care, Kara, okay? You spent time with him in a difficult situation. I'm not going to judge you for that."

"But you'd judge me for sleeping with the vice president, right?" Kara's voice had turned frigid. "It's none of your gods-damned business who I sleep with."

"You're right. It's not. And I'm sorry for ever making you think it was."

For a few long moments, silence ruled in sickbay. The curtains surrounding Kara's bed ensured privacy, and at the moment, were an inpenetrable barrier to the outside word as well. Lee didn't want anything to intrude on the moment. All he wanted was for Kara to listen to him. She meant too much to him for her to take any more careless risks, suicide missions or reckless actions.

Kara blinked at him after a short while, and he could see the tears welling up in her eyes.

"I can't talk about him, Lee." Her voice was harsh. "Not with you. Not with your father. I left him there, and we're not going back."

Lee thought for a second, then clenched her hand in his.

"Then for the sake of the Lords, talk to someone. I don't know who, or how. But find a way. At the very least, we'll both listen. And I promise, I won't judge."

Kara took a moment to think, then cracked a small grin.

"And what about your father?"

Lee returned the smile.

"I think he's more concerned with getting his shoes cleaned." He leaned back into the chair now, feeling the tension around them dissipating. "He told me to tell you as soon as you're back on your feet, you have laundry duty."

Kara groaned.

"Oh, that's so bad, Lee. So bad." She sniffled for a moment, then wiped at her eyes with her free hand. "You'd better do it for me, or I'll use it as leverage."

The banter familiar, Lee finally let himself regain some sanity for the first time in 12 hours.

"For what, Thrace?"

Kara's grin turned gleefully malicious as she settled back against the pillow, clearly at ease herself.

"To find out who told you about Anders."