Gods is she bored.

School has only been let out for two days now, and the time is already piling up on her like sandbags.

She chucks the remote to the opposite end of the couch, huffing and folding her arms in frustration. Midday tele-novellas are not her thing, and they seem to be the only thing broadcast that isn't little kid shows involving puppets or game shows for the elderly.

The clock on the wall tells her she still has two hours until her appointment with absolutely no other way worth filling the time.

It's not as if she misses school. Lords no. But, at the very least, it provided a purpose for most days. Forced institution of learning or not, it was something to do.

She shifts in her seat, watches as the dumb blond fights with the sassy redhead over the flat-topped hunk of boring on the screen.

Cursing that clock for mocking her, she takes little solace in the fact that her mother isn't here.

Idle time meant training time to Socrata Thrace.

Kara hates doing push ups.

/\/\/\/\/\

She's the only one in the waiting room, so she kicks off her shoes and lays her feet out on the table in front of her. There's some strange kind of music, it almost sounds Gemenese, coming from the receptionists' wireless. It has a good beat to it and she finds herself humming along.

The monthly appointments can be tiresome. She doesn't like the idea that, on a certain day and time, she's expected to be where she's told. She's not anyone's slave, and refuses to do such bidding.

But rather than face the wrath, she shows up prompt and ready, every single month.

Funny thing is her mother never wanted her to get the frakking braces in the first place. In fact she laughed the second the dentist suggested it. She didn't care if Kara's teeth were sort of crooked or if she had a slight overbite. Kara didn't care either, but made the mistake of uttering a "thank the gods" when her mother had refused.

Next thing she knew she had an appointment for the beginning stages of planning out a corrective path.

It figured.

Her mother didn't want her to have them, but the second she knew that Kara didn't, the decision was made.

She grabs one of the magazines on the table next to her feet, seeing that it's clearly a few months old, and wonders why doctors or dentists can never seem to keep them recent for whatever reason.

Thumbing through a copy of 'Caprican Teen', she readily rolls her eyes at articles with such mind numbing titles as 'How to Highlight Your Social Life,' and 'Keeping up with the Status Quo.' The one real line of drabble that makes her laugh out loud is called 'How to Make Him More than A Friend.'

She never understood why girls her age bought any of this crap. Were they all so insecure they needed some thirty-year-old writer, disturbingly interested in teen comings and goings, to dispense advice?

She sure doesn't need any help with her social life.

She's fifteen, with a bad attitude, and a mouthful of metal.

Who wouldn't want to be her friend?

/\/\/\/\/\

The dentist tells her she needs to brush and floss more. And to make sure to cut down on the sugar consumption he knows she lies about.

So the first thing she does after the appointment is finds the closest convenience store, and steals five candy bars and a pack of candied fruit.

The clerk eyes her suspiciously when she walks in, guess a girl just can't shake that wrong side of the tracks vibe. She doesn't want to risk walking out with the goods when the guy whose sole purpose in life, is to sell cigarettes and lottery tickets, clearly has it in for her.

Instead she relies on a trick one of her mother's fellow marines taught her on some base on Scorpia. If you go into a shop planning to steal, and the clerk knows you've stolen, they technically can't do anything until you try to leave. So the easiest thing to do is sneak out the back. There are never any cameras back there, and the workers never even think to suspect such a thing.

Once she's out in the alley behind the store she opens one of the bars, the one with caramel and peanuts, and takes a big monster bite.

There is just something about bucking the rules that makes it taste so much sweeter.

/\/\/\/\/\

She ends up at the library.

The thought of wandering back to the tele-vid at home for entertainment isn't a pleasant one. That and the severe lack of friends or money, has her with very little options for free and cheap ways to waste away the day.

Circling the stacks a few times she finds that she's read most of the fiction they have here. Long stretches spent on military bases leaves very little for a kid to do other than read.

Her mother yells at her constantly for the bad grades she brings home. She doesn't understand how a girl, who has her nose in a book all the time, never does well in school. Kara's only defense is that knowledge is different when it isn't forced upon you.

She picks the one Kataris collection she hasn't read, as well as an instructional book on oil painting technique. Her last art teacher had suggested to her that she expand her horizons in the field, and Kara, not getting encouragement too often, took the suggestion to heart.

Finding the only empty table, she drops the books down without a care, and is immediately shushed by someone. She fires back a menacing 'frak you' to whoever it was.

The little expletive incites a laugh out of someone to her right, and as she takes her seat, she makes sure to scowl in their direction. She's about to repeat herself as well, when the words suddenly still themselves on her tongue, as she gets a good look at 'they' who is actually a 'he.'

He's looking back at her, a copy of 'Tranquility through the Art of Viper Maintenance' in his hands, with the bluest eyes she's ever seen.

He's wearing a Picon Panthers t-shirt that seems to hang slightly on a clearly skinny frame, has sandy light brown hair, and a smirk that makes the hairs on her neck stand at attention.

She thinks he's cute, and knows immediately that he's aware of such cuteness.

She says hello by throwing one of her candy bars at him.

/\/\/\/\/\

His name is Lee Adama.

He likes pyramid, vipers, and has a little brother named Zak who is away at camp all summer.

Not that she'd actually asked for all the information. But once a conversation was struck, by him, the little details just naturally slipped out.

She likes him right away because, instead of calling her a crazy bitch for chucking a candy bar at him, he picked it up and started eating it, nodding a thank you at her.

She tells him her name is Kara, which he repeats to himself as if the simple four letters are something to register in his mind. She tells him that the book in his hand is a good read if he's into the contradictory nature of the belief in tranquility being coupled with a military standard flying machine.

Lee says it's interesting.

He asks what school she goes to because he hasn't seen her around, and she tells him West Athenian, and he nods and says that he goes to Caprica City High.

She wants to say big frakking deal, who cares what schools we go to when its summertime, but he laughs at something and she clamps down on the thought.

"What?" she asks.

"You just rolled your eyes at me as if I'm the most boring person you've ever met," he replies. "Which, come on, clearly isn't true."

She blinks at him. Such a sarcastic response could have easily come out of her. She's almost impressed.

"Have you always been this full of yourself?" She asks instead.

"Just when I know I'm right." He says, then smiles.

She's probably going to have to punch him soon, she muses to herself. That smile of his is making her feel way too girly.

/\/\/\/\/\

Lee asks for her number but she doesn't give it to him.

So he asks if she'll ever want to meet him at the library again and she almost says no as a reflex.

Kara Thrace doesn't have friends because Kara Thrace doesn't need friends. And she sure doesn't need this kid, this stupid grinning, he's so pretty he could be frakking dangerous kid, messing with her mojo.

But she agrees to come back the day after tomorrow to talk a little bit more.

She tells herself it's because she doesn't have anything else better to do, but when he leaves he shakes her hand, and a spark literally snaps between them. They each recoil, shaking the sting out of their hands, and look at each other as if it's the most significant thing that's ever happened.

/\/\/\/\/\

Lee makes her smile and she hates him a little for it.

Despite the badass persona she flaunts so haughtily, she's self conscious about her braces, and doesn't like flashing them all the time he's around.

They're sitting in the library once more, regularly getting shushed by the same old lady from the other day. She grabbed the oil painting book again, and of course he asks if she paints. She tells him sort of, and he asks if he can see some of her paintings sometime.

Automatically she wants to say yes, which is strange. The only people who have ever seen her work before were art teachers. Otherwise she keeps all her canvases shoved in lockers or in the back of her closet.

She wants to show him, but most of all, she wants him to like them.

There's a strange knot twisting itself in her stomach the more they talk.

She fights against it and tells him maybe.

/\/\/\/\/\

She's waiting, no melting, on the tram platform wondering where the hell Lee is.

They've been hanging out nearly every day for the past couple of weeks, and he's never left her waiting around for, she checks her watch, twenty minutes. Of course he picks one of the hottest days of the year to be late.

Sitting on a bench in a shaded corner offers little refuge from the heat. She can feel the sweat racing down her back and shifts uncomfortably, finding it very difficult to sit still. A minute passes and it's too much, so she shoots up from her seat and starts pacing back and forth.

Gods, she hates waiting.

He never even told her where they were going.

There's a nasty little thought forming in the back of her mind, about Lee suddenly realizing she's no good, about him stranding her up here all day to melt into a puddle leaving only her mouth gear behind.

The thought takes a sharp left turn towards anger, and she starts cracking her knuckles, her fingers achingly protesting the action. She's just waiting for someone to give her a reason to…

Suddenly there's an ice cold sensation on the back of her neck and she swirls around, rearing back her arm, her fist landing square into Lee's chest.

He hits the ground with a thud, the two water bottles he had in his hands dropping next to him, and cries 'ouch' in a long drawn out manner.

She's suddenly relieved that he didn't ditch her, and that knot she's been feeling since she met him, twists and turns some more.

She scowls down at him.

"Don't look so shocked," she says, as she kneels down as if she's going to help him up.

Instead she reaches for one of the water bottles and takes a long, cool drink.

/\/\/\/\/\

They're going to Delphi.

Which is kind of an adventure because she's never been. But of course they end up in the one car where the AC is broken and they're left sweltering for the whole ride.

They sit on opposite benches facing each other with legs stretched out across. Lee's skin touches hers and its warm and slick, and she stares out the window so he can't see the mixed feelings she has running around in her mind.

Lee is the first friend she's had in a long time. There's no denying that something clicked between them that day at the library. And the more time they spend together, the more she begins to realize that he's slowly becoming her best friend. Something she can't say she's ever had.

They have the obvious things in common. A love for pyramid, the both of them have a parent in the military and absentee fathers. They share the same disillusionment with the world around them.

But there's also this weird opposite ends of the spectrum thing they have going. She's all fire and quick wit, coupled with a short fuse, and a nasty habit of favoring the five finger discount. Where as Lee is all calm and calculating, has a quick wit too but it's more thought out than retaliatory. She hasn't seen any hint of a temper in him yet, but for some reason she knows it's there somewhere, just bubbling under the surface of all that ice. She also knows that he probably has never stolen a thing in his life.

Whatever it is between them seems to work, and she wonders when she'll screw it up.

She sighs against the glass and chides herself for being pathetic and wonders just when she had gotten so frakking introspective.

"You're making me nervous," Lee says, pulling her from her thoughts.

"What?"

"You've been quiet for," he makes a show of checking his wrist even though he isn't wearing a watch. "Five minutes now. Which means you're either plotting some elaborate prank at my expense, or you're actually thinking about something? Both can't be good for me."

Her brow creases in annoyance, and she playfully kicks him in the thigh, to which he grabs her foot and starts taking off her shoe.

She laughs loudly, and shifts in her seat, trying to fight him off.

"Lee!" She cries through her laughter. "My shoe! Cut it out!"

He doesn't stop, and grabs onto her ankle, nearly pulling her from her seat.

The few people in the car are staring at them but she doesn't care. She laughs and covers her mouth with her hand, and he keeps tickling, until she finally manages to squirm away.

Shifting back into a sitting position, she clutches at her stomach and tries to catch her breath.

Lee is grinning from ear to ear, very pleased with himself. A small bead of sweat makes a trail from his neck down his chest, and her eyes follow it all the way.

She thinks of that stupid article she read in the dentists' office.

Best friends don't want to frak each other do they?

/\/\/\/\/\

Delphi is completely different from Caprica City.

There aren't as many high rises, and the sidewalks aren't as crowded. The people here don't seem to be in as much of a hurry to get wherever they are going, and she doesn't have to sidestep someone every few seconds.

They've only been walking around for a few minutes but she already knows she likes it here.

Her eye catches the tallest building and Lee says it's the Telamont Building.

Yeah okay, thank you Mr. Tour guide, she thinks.

They walk a little more and she begins to think her internal jab at him isn't far off the mark. He's being oddly cryptic, because it seems like he knows exactly where he's going, he just isn't telling her.

It's a little annoying. She doesn't want to be lead around like some obedient pup, and she starts to ask, then stops.

It's a beautiful day in a nice little town, and she's hanging out with her buddy Lee.

If she doesn't start appreciating things like this every once in awhile she knows she'll turn out exactly like her mother.

She smiles at him, braces shining in the sunlight, and doesn't really care where they're going.

/\/\/\/\/\

The Delphi Museum of the Colonies.

She wants to ask if he's kidding, but when she starts to open her mouth, he's already at the top of the steps dropping a few credits at the ticket window.

She doesn't have any money, and is about to say so, when he meets her halfway and pins a day pass to her shirt.

It's a nice gesture, but she frowns anyway and tries to take if off, telling him that she's not a charity case.

His hand stills hers.

"I wanted to come here," he says. "And I wanted you to come with me. So what if I paid, it's not a shot at your character. I know you can take care of yourself."

"Damn right," she interjects through clenched metallic teeth.

He rolls his eyes and looks at her knowingly.

"Admission isn't something you can shoplift Kara," he says in such a way, she knows it's meant to shut her up.

Frak that.

She's about to tear into him in retaliation, but he's quicker than her.

"Think of it as a date," he says turning and walking back up the steps, leaving her blinking after his retreating form. "If that will make it easier."

Well.

That shuts her up just fine.

/\/\/\/\/\

Okay, she thinks gazing upward at a giant painting of some artists' interpretation of Athena throwing herself from the gates of Hera, maybe this wasn't such a bad idea.

They have art here.

Lots of it.

So much that she ends up being the one dragging Lee around because she can't wait for what she'll see next. He doesn't complain. He's hardly said anything at all. But there's this odd look of satisfaction about him. She makes a note to herself that somehow she'll have to knock him off that pedestal when the time comes.

It's also blissfully air-conditioned inside.

There are many things here about the gods, and exile, and the rebirth of man and their society. Kara knows all the stories. She'd first read the scriptures when she was seven, and has several more times since. She believes as much as girl who has seen all she's seen, felt all the pain she's felt, can believe.

Lee doesn't seem the type to be impressed by beings larger than he. He's more realistic, more methodical. He wants reasons and rules and answers. Praying to the gods rarely results in any of those things.

They're standing in front of the arrow of Apollo when she finally thinks of asking him whether or not he's a believer.

"Lee?" she asks. "I know it was your idea to come here but, do you believe in any of this?"

His answer is very calm, very cool, and very Lee.

"I don't know what I believe," he says.

And just like that the topic is dropped.

/\/\/\/\/\

They're in the gift shop because she hopes there's a postcard or something with that painting she loved so much printed on it. It's disappointing that most of the crap they're trying to peddle are just things that say 'Delphi Museum' all over them. Or snow globes with little statues of the gods inside them. Or coffee mugs with 'Got history?' printed on the sides.

Lee is looking at the postcard rack, and he catches her eye and shakes his head. No such luck with the painting. Damn.

She's about to walk out when she passes a bin full of little metal figures of all the gods. Shifting her hands around for a minute she finds one she wants, Artemis, the goddess of the hunt and moon. Tossing a look over Lee's way she sees that he's now flipping through some book about the exodus, so she digs a little deeper into the pile until she finds the other figure she's looking for. Aphrodite, the goddess of love, lust, and beauty.

Kara believes in these two the most. They were strong. They never took crap from anyone. They were all the things she wishes she could be. She wants to grow up in their image and take the worlds head on.

Lee is still looking at the book, and the cashier is busy with a customer, so she quietly shoves the two figures into her pocket.

/\/\/\/\/\

On the way home she and Lee sit on the same bench. She's so tired. After the museum they walked around for hours talking about nothing, and everything.

Lee hates his father, and Kara misses hers. Kara hates her mother, and Lee adores his. Lee is going to try out for the Pyramid team this year, and Kara is thinking of doing the same. She tells him she's a screw up. He tells her he lives inside his head too much.

They don't know what they're going to do with the rest of their lives, and they both agree that they don't want to have to spend the next three years figuring it out. They're both expected to be greater than what they aspire to be, and they both hate it.

She almost tells him about her fingers, her braces, and a thousand other incidents of her mother's humiliation upon her. She almost believes she could. But it's been such a wonderful day she doesn't want to ruin it.

She yawns and slides down a little on the seat, leaning toward Lee and resting her head on his shoulder. He's warm, and soft, and smells like the sea.

"Lee?" She asks sleepily against him.

"Yeah?"

"I had fun today."

"I thought you would," he replies.

She must really be tired because the next words out of her mouth are so rare she's not even sure she can say them correctly.

"Thank you."

He doesn't reply, only throws his arm around her shoulder and keeps her close.

/\/\/\/\/\

When she gets home there is a message from her mother saying she'll be on Tauron for at least another couple of weeks. She goes on, reciting off a laundry list of things she wants Kara to do in her absence, but Kara zones out the second she knows she'll be free for a few weeks more.

She takes the figures out of her pocket and grins.

"Thank you ladies," she says.

/\/\/\/\/\

They're sitting on a bus headed for the beach.

Their bags full of summer time fun are resting at their feet, and they thumb wrestle, and poke each other, and generally act like little shits much to the dismay of the other passengers.

She's a bad influence on him, she knows it, but can't help but feel a little pride that she's gotten him to let loose every now and again.

He threatens to drown her in the ocean if she keeps picking on him, and she goads him on, saying she'd like to see him try. Such idle threats result in a tickle fight and they laugh and scramble and bounce around until the bus driver threatens to kick them off.

She pinches Lee's leg, and he elbows her in the side, but they make sure to keep their actions subdued, eventually settling into just sitting.

Kara glances around at the passengers, wondering to herself just how many different ways these people lived their lives. How many of them were good people. How many were jerks. How many were no better than her.

Her eye catches a slightly older man, who is wearing a suit and trench coat, and looks way overdressed for the weather. She stares at him long and hard, and can't quite put her finger on why he's captured her attention.

Lee bumps her shoulder with his but she shrugs him off.

The man reminds her of her father. He used to dress exactly like that whenever he was playing somewhere.

She knows Lee is following her gaze to the man, but he doesn't ask the obvious question and part of her is grateful for that. She's not comfortable enough to burst into tears in front of him, and talking about her father fondly will do exactly that.

The man is not her father. He's too tall for one, has a large beak nose for two, and a goatee her father never would have grown for three. But he's still churning up too many memories and emotions inside of her and she just wants him to go away.

Luckily he gets off at the next stop.

Kara keeps her eyes on the now vacated space and sees that the man had left something behind. She's quick to jump from her seat, before anyone else notices the same, and goes to retrieve it.

It's a single Caprican brand cigar.

She slips it into her pocket and moves back to sit next to Lee, who's looking at her with questioning eyes, but he keeps his mouth shut and nudges her when she sits back down. She gives him a weak smile then goes for the ticklish spot she discovered just under his ribs.

The bus driver kicks them off two blocks away from the beach.

/\/\/\/\/\

The beach is bright, sunny, and warm.

And she and Lee spend most of the day in water, splashing and swimming, and trying to drown each other. Several times Lee picks her up and tosses her, and one time she shocks him by doing the same.

Once or twice she catches him looking at her body and she splashes water in his eyes.

They body surf the waves and end up crashing into each other more than once, getting tossed up by the currents. One awkward time they wash up on the surf tangled in each others arms, looking into each others eyes, and briefly Kara thinks he's going to kiss her.

Fearing that's how she'll let herself screw this up she punches him in the chest, laughs, and takes off back into the water, leaving him to give chase.

On the ride home she knows he wants to talk about what could have happened but she won't let him. Instead she plays with the cigar that man had left behind and blows imaginary smoke in his face.

/\/\/\/\/\

It takes another couple of weeks before she's brave enough to show him her paintings.

Something has been off between them since that day at the beach, and they haven't talked about it. At least, she hasn't talked. Lee tried to bring it up a few times but she would quickly change the subject.

She's not stupid. She knows Lee cares for her more in more than a friendly way, and it scares her frakking senseless. She's been told all her life that love is a wasted emotion. It's for fools and poets, both of which share the same distain with her mother.

Lee looks past her attitude problem. He sees her beyond the braces and the shoplifting. Sometimes when he looks at her she feels like she could be that person he thinks he sees. Too bad there's a part of her, a rather large part that wants to stomp on his heart for thinking such idiotic notions about her.

Still, she's been lonely long enough and she wants to fix it.

Standing behind Lee, tapping her thumb against her leg, she watches as he takes his sweet time flipping through her canvases. Lifting each one carefully in front of him and examining them as if she's going to test him later.

One painting in particular catches his attention, that red, blue, and yellow circle she's been doodling since she was a kid. He spins the picture around in his hand, causing that circle to swirl in front of him.

C'mon, she thinks. Say something.

Lee looks through a few more before she finally gets her wish.

"I don't know about art," he says with a smirk. "But I know what I like. These are amazing Kara."

Her heart suddenly swells, and that knot, that twisted stomach flipping knot, grows inside of her.

She smiles at him, lets the attitude take over, and knocks him lightly on the shoulder.

"You bet your ass they're amazing," she says, her smile still beaming, and once again not feeling shy about flashing her braces in front of him.

"I've been asking you to see these for weeks," he says standing up. "Why'd you show me now?"

Because I didn't want you to leave, she thinks, but cannot say.

Instead she gives him a pleasant answer that's not untrue, but not as terrifying.

"Duh," she says faking a kick at his shin. "You're my best friend."

/\/\/\/\/\

They're sitting on her couch watching some historical documentary on the Cylon war, both listening with interest, because they have heard several stories from their veteran parents.

"You ever think that most of the soldiers couldn't help themselves from laughing at a wave of centurions?" Kara asks, as the documentary shows some re-enacted footage of cylons marching. "I mean look at those things. They're all bright and shiny and ridiculous. It looks like they're overgrown wind-up toys that will fall over any second."

Lee laughs, but he has that look like he's about to correct her attempt at a joke with actual fact.

"Probably," he concedes. "Until they're close enough to rip your spine out with their giant wind-up hands."

He leaps across the couch and her, turning his hands into claws, and goes right for her back like he's going to rip her spine out. She laughs and fights him off and they end up on the floor wrestling.

"Lee!" She cries when he starts tickling. "Stop! I can't breathe!"

"By your command," he replies in a false robotic voice, which just makes her laugh some more.

When they break apart they're laying on the floor still close enough to touch. And once the laughter dies down Kara wonders what would happen if she let it. Lee sees this in her eyes, and shifts the slightest bit, and she bites her lip and waits for whatever is about to...

Of course that's the moment her mother decides to come home.

"Oh frak," she mutters.

Kara is quick to her feet, and Lee follows immediately.

"Lee," she says in a whisper. "I'm sorry for, well, you'll see."

Socrata Thrace walks into the living room in full uniform and quickly locks eyes with her daughter.

"Kara," she says coldly. "What is going on here?"

"Nothing mama," Kara says. "We were just watching the history network."

"We?"

"Me and my friend here," she replies, pointing at Lee.

She looks over to him, her eyes squinting with scrutiny. "He got a name?" Socrata asks.

"Lee Adama sir," he says, stepping into attention.

Kara looks at him strangely. Sure his dad is military, but he never once indicated that he knew anything about protocol.

Socrata smirks at him and it chills Kara to the core, but then that smirks turns into a restrained smile and Kara realizes that it must please her somehow, Lee showing a soldier the proper respect.

"It's a little late isn't it Mr. Adama?" She asks. "I think you should be heading home now."

"Yes sir," Lee replies. He looks back to Kara who can only shrug as if to say she's sorry the night ended this way. "I'll see you Kara," he says.

"Bye Lee."

When he's out the door, her mother wastes no time.

"A boy Kara?" She asks through clenched teeth. "A boy in my house when I'm not around?"

"It's not like that mama," Kara replies weakly.

Socrata walks right up to her as if she's going to slap the insubordination right out of her mouth, but she stops, catches a gleam of Kara's braces from the lamplight.

"No it wouldn't be would it?" her mother says, that cold smirk coming back. "Who would want you anyway?"

Somehow Kara wishes she were slapped. The pain would have been gone in seconds. It wouldn't have hit so deep.

"Showed some respect," Socrata says, mainly to herself. "How exactly are you two friends?"

Kara doesn't answer.

"He got parents in the service?"

Kara nods. "His dad is a colonel on a battlestar."

"He's fleet huh? That's a shame."

"Why mama?"

"Because Marines and Fleet don't mix," Socrata replies. "I don't want you seeing him anymore. Is that understood?"

She walks away not waiting for an answer, saying all she's had to say, casually ripping Kara's heart out in the process.

She won't let herself cry. She hasn't all summer and she's not about to start again.

Marines and Fleet don't mix, she thinks, and files that little fact away.

/\/\/\/\/\

Since when has she ever listened to her mother?

She and Lee are sitting in the grass under a tree at Centennial Park, casually tossing a pyramid ball back and forth to each other. She curses her mother and her luck, because just being near him is different now. It's as if the mere act of spending time with him falls under a thrill because it's against the rules, and she's sad for it.

It makes it feel less real.

Her mother thinks she's at the library which isn't completely a lie. That's where they met up, and it's still right down the street, so technicalities can be measured in meters should anyone so desire.

She hasn't told him what her mother said about him and she's not going to.

Lee is such a stand up, rule following, good kid, she's afraid he would stay away from her if he found out he had to. Out of some kind of parental respect her mother doesn't deserve in the slightest. And then she'd have to explain why her mother didn't deserve it, and then she'd have to break down and tell him all the horrible things that's been done to her and…

"Kara," Lee says pulling her from her thoughts, a habit he's picked up with her. "The ball? I threw it past you two minutes ago."

She looks behind her, sees it resting in the grass. "Oh." She goes to get it and sits down again about to toss it back to him, when she sees the concern in those blue eyes of his, and knows he's about to ask all the questions she doesn't want to answer.

So she fires the ball right at his head and laughs a little too loudly at his stunned look.

He leaves the ball in the grass, the concern in his eyes turning to disappointment, and her breath catches because she feels it too.

/\/\/\/\/\

School starts in two days.

It's an un-broached topic because they both know what it means for them.

They're walking side by side on the Riverwalk, casually observing the droves of people scrambling by. Lee bumps into her, and she bumps back and somewhere along the way he grabs hold of her hand and she lets him.

A simple act of affection from her best friend shouldn't be so hard.

She shouldn't have to fight every instinct in her body, telling her to drop this ooey gooey display, and run far, far away in the opposite direction.

It's Lee, she tells herself over and over again. It's just Lee.

He has a small, comfortable smile on his face, and she almost envies the fact that this is entirely too easy for him.

Kara notes as the people passing them by offer small smiles of their own, thinking 'how sweet' to themselves, how different their reactions would be had she been here alone. How they'd be eyeing her every move, instantly suspecting her of wrong doing, and the funny thing is they'd probably be right. But since she's got a nice young man's fingers entwined in her own, they're all sugary sweetness.

When they stop in front of a fruit vendor, she makes it a point to swipe two apples, thinking 'frak you' to all those high class fakes walking around.

She feels Lee's hand tense against hers when she pockets the first apple, but he laughs and shakes his head, and he thinks he's being coy when she sees him hand the vendor a credit.

He's trying to make an honest woman out of her.

Gods is she going to miss him.

/\/\/\/\/\

They're sitting on a bench in the main circle of Government Center Plaza.

She flips the bird to all the government buildings in front of them and pulls out the cigar from that day at the beach and pries the plastic off. Lee laughs at her when she tries to light it and nothing happens.

He takes the cigar right out of her mouth, doesn't pause to wipe any of the dampness caused by her away, and chews off a piece and spits it to the ground. He extends his hand for her lighter, which she gives, and proceeds to light up and take a few small puffs, blowing the smoke in her direction.

The surprise on her face must be clear because he laughs again and says "I'm not as straight laced as I'm sure you'd like to believe."

She grins and nudges him, and pulls the cigar from his mouth, taking a few cursory puffs. It's sweet almost, and smooth and kind of makes her lightheaded. She puffs on it some more deciding that a girl can definitely get used to it.

They sit not talking for awhile, passing the cigar back and forth until her stomach begins to feel a little uneasy, and Lee puts it out by scraping it along the bench.

It's a fitting end, she thinks, sort of like a last hoorah.

Lee takes her hand again, and she wants to pull away, because if he starts going all soft on her now she knows she's going to loose it.

It sucks that they're both realists and know full well that after today they aren't really going to see each other anymore. Not when they go to school on opposite ends of the city. Not when Kara is back under the watchful eye of her mother, who is ten times worse during the school year.

It isn't fair that in two days she's going to lose the best friend she's ever had.

"Kara," Lee starts to say, but she cuts him off.

"Don't," she says, her voice barely coming out a whisper. She stares at the ground because there are tears in her eyes and she doesn't want him to see them, but when she feels his hand on her cheek she doesn't fight it when he makes her look at him.

"This isn't good-bye," he says.

And she smiles a little bit, because she really wants to believe him.

He looks at her and she looks at him, and they realize nothing is stopping them from seeing what if.

And when they meet halfway in a kiss, the knot, the stomach churning, heart wrenching knot that has been there from day one slowly unravels inside of her.

She will see him again.

Of that she has no doubt.