A month since he held her while she poured her broken heart out to him.
A month since he said 'I love you' and meant it.
The pyramid ball bounces off one of the partitions and he grabs the rebound and tosses it effortlessly into the goal. Letting out a tired breath he makes his way toward the bench to grab a towel to wipe the sweat from his eyes. Taking a long drink of boost elixir he works out a kink in his neck before dropping the towel back onto the bench.
Practice had ended over an hour ago but he told coach that he wasn't tired and wanted to keep going. She was going to argue with him, but she must have seen something in his eyes that told her saying no wasn't an option. There's too much aggression inside of him and he knows it. He needs to work it out before he loses his precious control and hurts someone.
Grabbing the ball from the goal he moves back to the middle of the court and takes a ready position. He counts down from five in his head then steps off his right foot and fakes left with the ball, before shifting his weight back to the right to spin out of the grasp of a would be opponent and bouncing the ball off of a partition.
Once the rebound bounces back his way he jumps for the ball with an outstretched arm, catching it in mid air, then twisting his body and firing it toward the goal. He lands on the pitch in a hard skid, the air getting knocked from his lungs with more force than he estimated. His eyes pinch shit once the momentum dies and he grabs his side gasping for air.
Once the pain fades away he lifts his head in the direction of the goal to see the ball rolling along the floor. He stares at it blankly. He missed again.
"Gods damn it Lee," he chides himself moving to rest on his knees.
Kara had showed him this maneuver the last time they practiced with each other and he hasn't gotten it right since.
The championship game is in two days and the gods must find some sort of amusement in torturing his already broken heart because Caprica City High and West Athenian have finished the season with identical records. The papers have been calling it the most anticipated match of the decade. The two schools having fought so fiercely all season long, and having one last bout for the title.
A part of him hates the fact that the first time he's going to see her again is somewhat forced.
He'd tried calling her. He'd tried running into her at some of their old haunts. He even showed up at her door one day only to keep knocking with no answer.
He gets back up to his feet and moves over to the bench again, his body finally calling for a break after so many hours of non stop punishment.
All his practice, all his moves and effort out there today, it was her he was playing against. It was her telling him he wasn't good enough. It was her telling him to push himself to be better.
He thinks of Kataris and star crossed lovers and laughs bitterly to himself. What they had initially fought against in beginning of their relationship is exactly what they ended up being.
Still, part of him he misses her so much that the anger at what she'd done is easily overridden.
He's so lost in his own thought that he doesn't notice when his brother enters the gym and walks up next him. He doesn't notice when he takes a seat and follows his gaze out onto the court. It takes Zak bumping Lee's shoulder with his own to get the elder Adama to see that he's no longer alone.
"What's going on Zak?" He asks.
"I don't know how to say this," Zak says.
"Whatever it is just say it," Lee sighs.
"It's about Kara."
Lee never could stand the smell of hospitals. There was always something in the air that made them seem so damn sterile, and something the struck him as unnatural for a place that could be so clean. His shoes squeak against reflective tile and he thinks of the first time he ever had to visit the emergency room.
He was chasing Zak around the backyard for a reason he can't remember, and somehow his little brother had managed to squeeze himself through a hole in the fence. Lee went running full stride after him and the next thing he knew he was in the backseat of his mother's car on their way to the hospital.
Turned out that the hole in the fence wasn't big enough to get through as fast as he was going and he'd ended up with a gash on his forehead and a mild concussion. He absently touches the spot where the stitches had been all those years ago. He remembers the smell making him woozy back then and all the adults said it was the blood loss.
The elevator waits in front of him and he's hesitant to press the button to call it. He's still not sure coming here was the best idea. When Zak had told him what happened it almost felt like it happened to him as well, the concern for her flooding his every thought. But with Kara not physically around, not affecting his emotions the way she did, his rationality quickly overtook it. He didn't think she would want to see him. Not after everything that had happened.
Zak had rolled his eyes at Lee and called him a frakking idiot for being so stubborn. Then really hit below the belt and compared that stubbornness to their fathers. It took Zak of all people to make Lee realize that he was being stupid. That no matter what happened between them; she made him the happiest Zak had ever seen. And if seeing her just once more, should it turn out to be only once, he would have known he'd done all he could.
Lee shakes his head at the thought of his younger brother's advice making so much sense. When he told Zak so, all he said in return was that it seemed like one of them was always thinking clearly. This time it was just Zak's turn.
He presses the button and silently asks the gods that this impromptu visit not blow up in his face.
When he finds her room and walks through the door he is stuck for a second. All the beds inside have the privacy curtains drawn around them. He doesn't want some awkward encounter with a kidney transplant patient or someone waiting to get their tonsils removed.
There's a soft sigh from the bed closest to the window and he recognizes it instantly. He can hear his heartbeat in his ears as he moves quickly and pulls back the curtain, feeling it drop just by setting eyes on her. Just looking at her sends his mind into a whirlwind of emotion and he clenches his fists to try and hold them at bay.
If they take over he will stop caring that they're not together anymore. He will forget that she made it quite clear she never wanted to see him again. If he lets his emotions take over like they always do when he's near her he will throw himself on the bed and cover her face with little kisses, willing her pain to be his own, and fight like hell to take it away.
He lets out a shaky breath. Seeing her again, like this, is a lot harder than he expected it to be. She lay on the bed above the covers, her leg cautiously propped up on pillows and wrapped in a clear thermal cast. Her eyes are closed with her head slightly tilted to the right and he thinks she's asleep, but she sighs again and says "I told the last frakking reporter I was done giving interviews."
Lee smiles to himself that even when she's vulnerable and laid out in a hospital, the attitude is still in force. There are several ways he wants to reply to the threat, some simple smart ass remark, or perhaps even pretending to be a reporter.
In the end all he gives is a simple "hey."
Her eyes snap open at the sound of his voice, and for a second she only stares out the window, before slowly letting her gaze fall on him. The look he gets from her makes his heart beat a little faster because the last time she looked at him, all he saw was nothing. This time, before she could hide it, he sees that she is genuinely glad to see him. "Hey," she says back.
The silence is heavy between them and Lee makes a move to the chair next to the bed and she doesn't protest, so he sits and takes a closer look at her leg. He can't see what the damage is exactly, the plastic is distorting any clear view of the skin, and he doesn't know anything about medicine to be able to take a guess.
"Guess I won't be going for five clicks anytime soon," she says wryly.
He looks back to her, sees the smirk on her face, and laughs even though it isn't funny.
"You don't have to do that," he says.
"Be brave for me," he says softly.
The anger is quick, her eyes flash with it, but he's not sorry with what he said. Her hands grip at the blanket atop the bed and he thinks that she just might tear through it. She's going to yell. Maybe even tell him to go frak himself. He doesn't let the threat faze him now. He's already here. That hurtle has been leapt.
"I know this is killing you."
The anger is gone as quick as it came because she can see he isn't going to back down from her now. Her lip quivers the slightest bit as her eyes go glossy and he knows that struck a chord deep inside. A single tear runs down her cheek and she's quick to wipe it away.
"I didn't think I would see you here," she says once her emotions appear to be in check.
"I didn't think you'd want me here," he replies.
She doesn't say yes, which is a small relief, but she doesn't say no either. Instead she just looks at him, and there is something in those eyes of hers, and for now he takes that for whatever it means.
"How did you find out?" She asks.
"Zak told me."
The confusion is clear on her face, and Lee knows how she feels. Zak is the last person either of them thought would be the one to bring this situation to light.
"His best friend goes to Oracle Tech," Lee fills in. "He was at the game."
"What happened Kara?"
"You said that Zak..."
"I want to hear it from you."
She thinks about not telling him. She thinks about asking him to leave. He can see it. He can also see that she's scared. Scared of being honest with him again. Scared of letting him in anymore than she had before. Lee doesn't know how he can see all things in her, and he knows that she can see this knowledge in him. He thinks that scares her more than anything else.
"I was showing off," she says quietly. "Oracle Tech is full of geeks and future deck hands and their pyramid team is a joke."
Lee nods. Oracle Tech hasn't had a winning season in more than six years.
"I just kept scoring," she continues. "And it was so frakking easy. They have no defense. They have no offense. We were just making them look so bad and I made sure to let them know it."
She pauses briefly, closing her eyes as if she's reliving the moment all over again. Lee wants to take her hand but decides against it, thinking that there is boundaries between them now, and he doesn't want her to freeze up on him by crossing them.
"In the second half the hitting started. Nothing big at first, but I was their prime target you know? Go after the one with the mouth."
How true, Lee thinks.
"I didn't let it stop me," Kara goes on. "They more they tried to knock me down the more I made them pay for it until I guess they had enough."
The tears well up in her eyes and Lee wants to do anything to keep them from falling.
"He waited for the ball to drop, the stupid frakker, and then he crossed the line like was some kind of centurion, and went right after me. I didn't even see it coming..."
He moves to take her hand and she lets him.
"Stupid frakker," she says again, the tears no longer able to be held back. "Takes away my shot because he couldn't handle being on a shit team. Because he couldn't handle a little... Gods damn it I was going to get away from her! I had a real chance and now..."
He moves up from the chair and embraces her as best as he can in her awkward position and she cries into his shoulder. He tries his best to give her the comfort she need being cautious all the while, thinking about the last time he'd offered such understanding. When the tears run out he doesn't want to be sent away. When she finally calms he moves to pull back, but her arms hold on and she doesn't let him go.
"Lee?" She asks softly.
"You're a screw up," he says echoing her words. "I get it."
Her laugh is hollow.
"And if this screw up says she's really sorry?"
He doesn't reply to that, only holds her tight and wills her demons fall away while he's so close.
"I missed you," she whispers.
"I missed you too."
He swears he can feel her smile against him.
Lee has never felt so in control on a pyramid court. Every pass is caught. Every rebound is capitalized upon. Every block, every tackle, and every goal is golden.
The championship game for the inter city prep league is played in Caprica City Arena, home of the Buccaneers, and it is jammed to capacity. He can't hear the crowd behind him, and at a massive thirty-five thousand people, even he regards that as strange.
The teams line up, and the Pirates only have one man covering Lee, so at every opportunity he is making them pay for underestimating him. In the beginning of the season no one on the Admirals could quite figure out just what the Pirates had done to reverse their fortune so drastically. Now that Kara is gone and they are playing like they'd only touched a ball for the first time today Lee knows exactly how it happened. Sometimes all it takes is one person to make a difference.
The ref drops the ball and Lee fakes to his left, then shifts to his right and spins around his opponent calling for the ball. Jared Hasek whips the ball toward a partition and Lee catches it on the bounce, turning in fluid motion with his eyes on the goal. This time there are two Pirates blocking his way and they are too big for him to swiftly shift around.
One of them tries a tackle and he dodges deftly, lobbing the ball back to Jared who strides past the remaining defender and easily taps in the goal.
The Caprica City fans leap to their feet, the collective roar between them becomes almost deafening. Lee and Jared both get called off the court and the captain is all smiles.
"What has gotten into you?" he asks. Lee's hand instantly reaches for the two medallions hidden under his jersey. The one's that Kara had given to him for luck, saying that he was going to need it as hard as she planned to root against him. Two shiny silver circles imprinted with the visage of Artemis and Aphrodite. He had looked at her questioningly as she handed them over to him. He had no idea she believed so strongly in the gods.
"I'm just having a good day," Lee replies.
Coach is happy. They are crushing the Pirates 13-3, and she doesn't want to any alterations in their momentum. Keep driving, keep scoring, and keep hitting. They will do what they've set out all season to do.
Lee takes a long drink of elixir and eagerly awaits his chance to get back on the court. He is so full of energy he finds it hard to sit still. It's the excitement true, the amazing atmosphere, and the sheer will to win contributing to all this success.
He rubs the spot where the medallions fall against his chest and knows his good day is a result of far more than the game.
The Admirals keep up their constant barrage and the Pirates are helpless to stop it. Lee can't help but think that the Pirates heart simply was not in the game because their star player had been taken down. Their fire and drive lost without her.
Minutes to go and the crowd is in a frenzy. Lee lines up for the final play and when the ref drops the ball he smashes through the last of the Pirates defense, passing to one of his teammates who knocks in the last goal.
The horn sounds.
Final score Admirals: 19, Pirates: 8.
Confetti falls onto the court and the Admirals are all smiles and cheers, everyone slapping each other on the back for a job well done. The team circles around the trophy when it is wheeled out to the presentation table, and the crowd roars again when Jared lifts it above his head. For the first time in ten years there is a repeat champion in the inter city prep league.
Lee accepts his teammate's congratulations as the principle of the school hands him the trophy for the game's most valuable player. He sees Zak and his mother in the crowd and point the trophy in their direction. Lee laughs at his mother clapping harder than anyone. Coach yells in his ear that scouts across the colonies will be knocking down her door with offers after tonight.
Once he gets his championship medal, Lee shrinks into the background the frenzy, sneaking back toward the locker room to shower and escape before party finds him again.
There's only one person he wants to celebrate with.
When he walks into her room she is sitting upright in her hospital bed playing singular with a deck of triad cards. She starts clapping with semi-mocking glee when she looks up and notices him come in.
"Lee Adama you magnificent bastard," she teases. "That was one hell of a pyramid game if I do say so myself."
"Well thank you," he replies with a laugh as he takes a seat in the chair next to the bed. "How did you hear about it already?"
"I listened to the game on the wireless," she says. "You do realize I'm inclined to hate you forever for humbling my team so badly. I still would have gotten a medal even if I didn't play in the final game. That would have been a nice souvenir."
Lee reaches into his pocket for the medal they had given him and gets up moving closer to Kara.
"This should be yours," he says placing it around her neck. "Meeting you has done a lot for me this season. I know I couldn't have played as hard as I did without you."
Kara looks touched as he moves to sit back in the chair but he's just waiting for the smartass remark to come flying out of her mouth.
"I can't take this Lee," she says instead.
"It's yours," he replies in an assuring tone. "I know if you were playing today I probably wouldn't have won it all."
He watches as she rubs her thumb over the phoenix of the colonies that is engraved into the medal, over the words that read 'Caprica City Champions.'
"You're damn right you wouldn't have," she says as she looks back up at him, and he smiles widely in return.
"So tell me mister most valuable player, are the offers flying in after today's little performance? Think you might make it straight to the pros?"
"I doubt it," he replies. "If any pro teams would actually want me it will be some place like Gemenon or Scorpia or some other bottom of the table team that's looking to inject a little youth into their systems."
"Not the Bucs?" She says with a grin.
"I wasn't going to say it in front of you," he laughs as he ducks a swipe from her pillow.
"Seriously, where do you think you're going to go?"
"You can be serious?"
"Come on Lee," she sighs, rolling her eyes.
"Picon," he answers quietly.
"I knew it! I swear to the gods I don't get your obsession with that rock, but I knew you were going to pick it. So what's your plan? Going to get big and strong at the university? Going to hope you get noticed by the Panthers or their b-team and one day get called up to the big boys?"
"Not exactly," he says turning his eyes away from her. "Today was my last game Kara. I'm done playing pyramid."
"What? Are you kidding? After today you can go anywhere! You can play anywhere! You're going to hang up your pads and give it up just like that?"
He takes a deep breath and works up the courage to tell her his plan. To tell her what's been on his mind the past few months and the life altering change he is about to make.
"I got my acceptance letter a few days ago," he says looking back to her. "For the academy."
Kara doesn't attempt to hide her shock.
"You're joining the fleet?" She asks incredulously. "After what it did to your family?"
"It's not about him," Lee replies. "I've actually wanted to fly since I was a little kid. Since I first laid eyes on my father's viper."
"You never told me that."
Lee smiles sadly at her. "We haven't told each other a lot of things."
She nods, knowing exactly what he means. The paintings she never mentioned. The fact that her father had been a musician. The reason why he left. The reasons why she made Lee say he loved her and then sent him away.
"This is about me," Lee continues. "This is about what I want." He looks her square in the eyes. "When you and I... When whatever we had ended I realized that I didn't want to play pyramid the rest of my life. That I didn't want a game to define who I am."
Kara is unclear how to respond to his honesty. From the day they met she had always thought he was the one person who understood what the game meant to her, because his love for it matched her own.
"If I asked you why you ended it," Lee asks, derailing her train of thought. "Would you tell me?"
The question is like a sucker punch and her first instinct in anger. Her eyes narrow at him but he seems unfazed by it.
"Do tell me it's because you're a screw up," he says. "That's too easy. You don't do something like that just because."
She wants him to leave now. Her mind is screaming at her to say the most vile and heartbreaking things to send him running out of the room never to return.
"Is it because you think you're back luck?" He asks. "Is that why you wear thirteen? Is it because of your mother and whatever she did to you?"
Kara's eyes fill with tears as the anger threatens to bubble over. Lee squeezes her hand and his touch is as calming as it always has been, and she suddenly hates him for it. She has been told all her life that she is not worthy of such feelings. That she doesn't deserve to be happy.
"You got too close," she answers softly. "The way you look at me, the way you make me feel... I couldn't handle it."
Lee nods with understanding. A part of him had suspected as much. "Does my being here change any of that?"
"I don't know."
"I meant what I said."
"Come with me," he says after a minute.
"Come with me," he repeats.
"Are you out of your frakking mind Lee? I don't know anything about vipers or raptors or flying. And in case you haven't noticed I'm not exactly the poster child for military discipline."
"You seem to be able to follow the rules of pyramid with no problem."
"It's a game," she says. "It's a game that I love."
"I think you'll love flying," he counters. "Every viper pilot I've ever known has told me that flying is freedom. For someone who feels so trapped in her life, in this town, and on this planet. I like to think that this offer would be pretty tempting."
She doesn't reply, only stares at her leg.
"It will heal," he says and she nods in reply. "Truth is I'm not as confident about this decision as I seem. In fact I'm pretty scared."
She looks back to him.
"I know we haven't known each other that long. And I know that we don't really know each other as well as I thought. But what we have works Kara. We push and feed off of each other. Look at the season we had together, look at how many records we probably broke. I'm going to need that."
He gets up from the chair and moves to sit haphazardly on the bed next to her.
"I'm going to need you."
He puts his arms around her, and she grasps onto his forearm hugging him back. Smoothing back her hair, he kisses her forehead softly.
"Do you really think I'd be a good pilot?" She asks in a whisper.
Lee smiles down at her.
"You'd be the best."