Title: Blink to See You
Rating: Teen. Characters: Lee, L/K if you squint
Spoilers: s2, up to / including Home, pt2
Disclaimer: yadda yadda not mine.
A/N: Missing scenes, I guess. My take on the aftermath of events in The Farm.
Its a prison ship; everywhere he looks, there's wires and bars and the crazy cross-hatched shadows of chain-link. Ironic, he thinks as he watches her stretch out on the narrow bunk of what used to be a transport cell, that he should feel so free, but then, he's no stranger to bars lately. Even more ironic that Kara Thrace, who had her own designated bunk in Galactica's brig, should be so lost in this larger version.
"Hungry?" he asks her, and she half smiles but a look of discomfort chases the expression away.
"Nah. Probably waste whatever I ate just puking."
He doesn't like that; she's thinner than she was when she left, and despite the vaguest sun-kissed tint in her spacer's pallor, her skin looks fragile in the undiffused light of the Astral Queen's 'general quarters'. "You know, there's a medic aboard. One of the original crew, not exactly a sympathiser; not a doctor, I know, but maybe he could -"
The word's flat and her face is frighteningly blank.
It takes him a few seconds to find something useful to say, something concerned and typical that'll put her back at ease, or at least give her something to snarl about. "How long were you without radiation meds, Kara?"
She frowns. "I wasn't," she says eventually, but her face says she isn't so sure.
He moves over to the bunk, sits on the edge; after a second she makes room for him, edging sideways. He thinks he hears her inhale sharply, and he stares. "If you don't want to see the medic," he tries, "maybe we can find a doctor on one of the other ships..."
"I don't need a doctor," she reiterates, and turns slowly onto her side, wincing. Her back is to him, her left arm curled around her ribs and her right splayed up on the flat pillow. Ivory skin still, there, inside the arm; veins are a blue ribbon under the surface. And there's a round scarlet pinprick and faintly yellow bruise, and the darker squares that are the lingering traces of adhesive tape. It's eerily familiar; he'd spent three minutes a week (and a lifetime) ago, staring at one just like it.
he's so pale and still; despite having a triad-face anyone might envy, even Starbuck, the emptiness of coma makes his features into a mask, and Lee has to make himself look, understand how close he came to losing his old man. Its making his throat tighten to catalog the indignities of the treatment, even though it's kept the Commander alive: the stitches, the dressings, the marks tubes and beeping monitors. The needle-bruise on the back of his father's hand.
Now he knows why she didn't come back in uniform.
"Lee?" she says softly, and he moves his eyes off that telltale mark, to her profile.
"What happens now?"
He wants to say something comforting, but this is Kara, and nonsense commonplaces never work with her. And she's so tired, on the verge of sleep, and so small and diminished, as though whatever reactor that powers her is drained and overtaxed. So he smiles, even though she can't see it, and reaches over to brush tendrils of hair that have escaped her ponytail away from her cheek. "We start over," he says, quietly. "Sleep, Starbuck."
He's so tired, his feet feel leaden; shifting them one after the other to get to the basin requires all his concentration, and leaning forwards on the counter to get his face close to the water throws his balance enough that for a moment he teeters backwards until his fingers find purchase on the rim of the sink. Even the water he cups and splashes on his face feels heavy, as though being back on Galactica meant returning to gravity ten times that of the planet.
They've done the speeches and exhonerations; he's CAG again (pity, he was enjoying his little holiday, or would have been if it was a holiday) and he had a conversation with his father that didn't involve either of them getting mad. It was right after he left the Commander's quarters that this fatigue hit him, as though concern, guilt, anger were all that were keeping him moving. He could sleep for a week, if he could make it back to his rack, though it occurs to him that he hasn't slept there since... well, since the one to the left of it was occupied by a cylon.
He shakes his head to throw off the thought, and just about tumbles sideways. Looks up in the mirror from his slanted perspective and...
Kara, in the shower. Obviously too tired to be bothered with doors or care if anyone sees. While he watches, she sweeps her hands up through freshly-washed hair, brushes the strands back flat against her scalp, the longer pieces curling against her neck. The way she moves her arms upwards draws his attention to the flex and flow of the muscles of her back, the lines of tension that pull and release down her back to the round relative softness of her backside.
blink but slower, squeeze your eyes a little as though fixing the image
Water traces her in tandem with his eyes, the livid bruise on the back of her left shoulder and the healing remnants of a narrow wound there. The marks of older bruises, or lesser ones, against her legs. The slim strength of her thighs as she shifts her feet apart, balances herself against the wall with one hand, the other moving down the parts of her he can't see. She's beautiful, he remembers without surprise, because he's seen that before far too often for his comfort. His brain is too tired, his control too blurred by steam and the precise image of her curves against the square lines of the tile - a grid-map of his own personal Tantalus - to make him look away.
blink but not for long. Don't miss a moment.
This sound doesn't fit, a tearing noise that has nothing to do with fingers or palms or water on silky, soapy skin; she gasps into the silence after it, hisses a frak at the ceiling. Stands still like that for a moment, then leans forward again, left hand coming up to join the right in supporting her against the tile. Her head drops forward further still, and she leans there, water running over her shoulders, down her back. Then she pushes upright, wavers, takes her hands off the wall.
blink there's something wrong, there's something very wrong -
Her left hand left a print on the tiles, some palm and the mark of her thumb; the water swirling at her feet is tinged with red. Something slaps wetly near the drain: a square of plaster dressing (that's the ripping noise, he realises, she took it off, and it's not healed yet) that's ominously but not overly bloodied. She stands there, efficiently bathing herself, until the water runs clear. Reaches up and wipes the blood off the wall.
... turns away while she turns off the water, sits down on the bench, tired mind turning over the clues. The conclusions don't make any sense, and when she steps out of the cubicle, sweatpants and tanks unwontedly pristine, he looks up again, sees her grin at him, all Kara, mischief and innocence and that new furtiveness behind the fatigue.
"You haven't cleared medical," he tells her.
The grin vanishes like steam. "I'm fine," she says, blankly, goes out the door past him without any sign of injury.
She's summoned to debrief about a day later than he expects; there's been too much going on with getting Galactica back in order - one little mutiny seems to have fracked up a whole lot, and he and the Commander have worked overtime (together) to fix things - to worry immediately about whatever is going on back on the abandoned Colonies. But he watches as her face goes through that flash-flicker of emotions before it closes down, going as uniform as the blue jacket she shrugs into. They fall into step, and outside his dad's door, he can't help but touch her arm, turn her to face him.
"Anything, and anytime," he reminds her. Her smile is briefly brilliant, warms him from somewhere deep in his gut, but he knows already, just from that smile, that there's things she's planning not to tell anyone.
It's a litany of revelations, and he wonders why she can say all this without screaming, is briefly glad of Tigh's presence because Starbuck despises him enough to keep control. The arrow, a blonde cylon (that Godfrey woman, and his father doesn't look surprised at all) a near miss, first of many. Helo (flash of joy in her face, then frustration), then Sharon.
She wanted to shoot Sharon. Something in her still wants to shoot Sharon. Another bond with the Adama family, though to be honest, they're already tied together too many ways to count.
Lee sees her do it again, momentarily lose the mask, and there's horror underneath: she's talking about her hometown, empty broken buildings, utter silence. But suddenly the grin surfaces, like a swimmer in dark water: her apartment seemed like a good place to crash. Tigh frowns, calls her out for her sentimental streak; Lee zones out on their snarling, remembering the dark, cramped little flat for himself.
take-out and cold nectar by the six-pack, and music playing over their banter, and Zak tipping the coffee-table sideways when Kara was sitting on it. She'd rolled, swearing, landed across Lee's lap. Zak had laughed himself breathless. Lee had pushed her off onto the carpet, trying not to notice her heavy warmth across his groin. Together they'd pelted Zak with peanuts and bottle caps until he'd surrendered. He'd been still laughing when he dragged Kara against his chest, kissed her soundly. Lee'd only watched for a moment before starting to pick up the rest of the peanuts off the floor. He didn't know why he bothered. Noone would want to eat them now.
Zak, asleep in Kara's bedroom; for a girl, she had remarkably little vanity or need for creature comforts. Only thing in the room besides the bed was a low table empty of everything but a half-smoked cigar and half a dozen empty condom foils. Zak had a bite-mark on his upper arm. Zak was so soundly asleep despite active habits and bright daylight that Lee had to shake him to wake him, and his little brother had clawed at the empty bed beside him, murmuring Kara as he started to surface.
waiting for them at the car, his gut twisting with envy as they came up the street with their arms twined around waists, wishing - not for her, but another her, one he had a right to want - he could feel that comfort. They grinned at him, climbed into the truck, the throatiness of the engine blurring whatever words they exchanged, and he was glad.
blink, back to the moment. "Sir? Sorry, sir. It's been yet another very long shift." The commander nods, and Lee's mind informs him that Tigh and Kara had moved on to snarling about whether or not Agathon could be a cylon. "I doubt it. The... Sharon, didn't get pregnant on her own, did she?"
"Who knows what the cylon ... things" (and Lee notes that Tigh doesn't even like using 'humanoid' in reference to them) "are capable of?"
"CAG's right, Colonel" Starbuck insists, but the commander lifts a hand.
"Let's continue, Lieutenant. Helo came through Baltar's tests with a clear result, and while I have my doubts about his... process, it's the best we have right now."
The story went on, and there was Kara's truck (and the guns in it) like an echo of Lee's earlier memory. She never finished paperwork on time, couldn't give a rats ass about the organization of her abode, but her truck had two spare tyres, a toolkit with enough gear to service a Viper, spare fuel, water, a spare battery-pack... and a couple semi-automatics and a rifle or two. Her preparedness was definitely a military thing, wasn't it? Everything else, you were rolling the dice with Kara, but life-or-death she was as reliable as sunrise. Even on a dead planet.
It was finding people on the dead planet that really shook her. The ability to relate in that cool, collected tone was slipping fast as she talked on: survival nuts, a few extremist sports fanatics, a Pyramid team doing altitude training near Delphi, pre-season. No military personnel; evidently the Cylons had known exactly where to find everyone who had been 'officially' soldiers.
The C-Buccs; Lee could laugh. That explained the pyramid ball. But Kara wasn't smiling.
The 'Resistance' crew weren't so much 'resisting' as 'surviving'. Their actions were for arms to defend themselves and meds to hold radiation sickness at bay. Neither would save them for long. The idea of a place to go - the Fleet - fired them up beautifully for a plan to steal a ship. And looking at her face, CAG understood that his pilot had meant to bring them all back. As many of them as she could, anyway, as many as would fit in whichever ship she could steal. So what went wrong?
"We were ambushed on the way to the base we'd picked out," she says at last, and pauses.
Had the resistance people all died? How had she survived, stolen a ship? No. Things clicked into place like the tumblers of a lock, snick-snick-snick and the door opens in his mind. "You were shot," he suggests, quietly. Her eyes hit him, wide and staring.
"Yeah." She slides out of her seat, unselfconcious movements with a face that's taut with near-terror, and tugs the waist of her uniform trousers down, other hand hauling up the hem of her jacket. Not a huge wound, but a frightening one, Lee notes; she's torn a few stitches ripping off the gauze in the shower the night before, but other than that it's healing clean. It'll leave a scar that's vaguely comet-shaped, the round impact site of the entry-wound, just above the hip, in front of a kidney, and the long tail of surgical intervention.
"The resistance people saved you," his father prompts, and for a long moment Kara is silent, but she finally nods.
"Yeah," she agrees. "But not from this."
Even with all the clues, Lee can't make what she says next make sense in his mind.
All he can see is how she tugs the top of her pants down another inch or two. All he can see is the other scar.
She vanishes down the hallway before he can catch her; he's under orders to get her down to Cottle but it's obvious he'll have to find her first. And even now, there's an urge to find his sidearm and go ask Sharon a few pointed questions.
His father's already moving in the opposite direction, and Lee thinks maybe the Commander's way ahead of him on that count. Not unusual.
her face, empty with remembered terror. Her voice, unbroken but soft. "They took part of me. A sample of -". Her fingers, knuckles white where they wrapped around the rise of her belt
He's seeing pieces of Galactica in between the flashes of rage, people walking to their posts, back to their bunks. Crewmen shifting crates, maintenance crews overhauling damaged panels, pilots who toss smiles at him along with salutes, and then move faster when he doesn't nod back.
bloody handprint on white tiles, the sound of her breath hissing out in pain
The hatch is slightly ajar to the companionway, as though someone didn't have time to shut it properly. Lee glances down the other possible route, sees it crowded with techs examining the wiring under the panels of deck they've levered up and leaned against the bulkheads. He goes through the hatch instead, closes it behind him.
faint sticky marks of tape and the yellowing needle-track bruise; veins blue under skin that seemed translucent
The route takes him through those deserted corridors that have become Galactica's memorial to Colonies lost; people rarely come here, now. It's not often they have the time to pay this shrine the respect it demands. Somehow the hallway's not a hallway you can sprint through on your way to the flight deck, or one you can take a short-cut through while you joke with your best friend on the way to your seat at the triad table. But there's still a few candles burning; and he knows that while life aboard Galactica goes on, nobody's forgotten. Lee lets himself out the far hatch and closes it softly behind him, and thinks he knows where she is.
He was right. She's in the old starboard observation room, the window that used to look out into the starboard pod; once upon a time, an LSO would have stood here during landings, but the only thing that's landed here in a while was Cylon. She's staring into the blackness of the abandoned, vented deck, and suddenly the rage is overlaid with the need to hold her.
"What happens now," she asks again, and turns to look at him, the faint reflected light from the corridor making her face a crescent moon in the dark, pale and fragile. "Lee? What happens now?"
the comet-tailed scar, with the red weals of torn stitches in a few places. Still raw, but healing.
It's good to wrap his arms around her, even better that her forehead is tucked against his jaw, that her own arms lock around his ribs. He presses a kiss against the spider-web fineness of her hair, doesn't care that the filaments cling to his lips. "We fix it. And we keep going."
As long as they keep going, he knows, the Cylons haven't won.
She huffs against his neck, and pulls back. "The cylons saved my life," she says, and its almost a smile that tugs at her mouth.
"They'll regret it," he promises her, sees her smile for real. "Won't they?"
She's really back now, he realises, when she actually laughs, her voice echoing in the little, dusty room. "You bet your ass they will."