When they finally let him in to see her, it isn't at all how he expects.
The president stands off to the left of him with her arms folded across her chest, watching with a grim grin as the marine pats him down for contraband. His father is almost a statue on his right, eyes like daggers stabbing into Lee's side with a feverish futility.
He still feels out of place in his civilian attire when surrounded by all his former fellow officers, and half the marine squad, standing around him in a semi-circle as if this is the most exciting moment in the fleet since the end of Baltar's trial.
The legendary Starbuck and Apollo reunited once again.
It's a strange sensation to be looked upon as if somehow he's going to be the hero in all this without the benefit of a uniform. They seem like they're waiting for some of that calm, cool confidence he's known for. An assurance that he will be the one to get the answers, by his mere presence alone, that they all crave so whole heartedly.
He shifts uncomfortably as the marine, whose name he doesn't know, grips the inside of his leg a bit too firmly causing the president's grin to widen slightly, teeth exposed and shining in the dim light.
"He's clean," the marine tells his superiors.
"Search him again," his father says.
Lee shoots a look at the old man, who meets his eyes with an unwavering glare. Forgiveness must be fleeting, Lee thinks to himself. Because he thought, maybe naively, they would be headed somewhere in that direction after he'd plead his heart out in court urging them to not make such a biast and callous conviction.
Of course if he's honest with himself, it is Kara and he is Lee, and they've always managed to bring out the best and worst in each other, in the most juvenile instances no matter the consequence to those around them. He can't fully blame them for taking precaution.
The marine is finally done again, and Lee wants this to just be over before someone throws out the suggestion of a cavity search.
He's allowed to move a few feet closer to the door, when the president's hand lands firmly on his arm, her grip just a bit too strong for a casual warning.
"If we suspect anything," She begins. "From either of you, the consequences will be swift."
Lee nods, but his defenses are on edge. For such a crafty politician, Laura Roslin has somewhat of a habit of letting her emotions take over a few of her actions and decisions. She's still mad at him for what he'd done to her in the trial. There is a fire in those eyes behind the glasses. She still looks at him with something a little less respectful than pity and something else only slightly below contempt.
"Of course Madame President," he replies, his toes curling inside his shoes because the word 'airlock' is silently beaming between them with the intensity of a laser. She would do it. He has no misgivings about that fact at all.
She isn't what he expects.
With the threat of cylon traitor is weighing heavy on his shoulders, he sees nothing to incite such fear.
Stepping into the cell they've got her locked down in, she isn't fighting against her chains like the caged animal he thought she'd be. She isn't cursing them all for being such frakking idiots for putting her away instead of praising her miraculous return. Instead she looks, at least to him, like a puzzled panther blissfully unaware of the walls that surround her.
She's sitting on the cot with her legs crossed in front of her, head bowed slightly, and eyes closed although he knows she's aware of his presence.
Her name feels heavy as it falls off his tongue, warm molasses on a cold winter day, and something keeps him from rushing over to crush her in his arms. He's missed her so much, gods he thought somehow he would still go crazy with her absence, and here she is only feet away and his legs refuse to move.
He doesn't quite let himself believe it's really her. He's never believed in miracles, or life after death, or anything close to miraculous religious fervor.
Somehow he's still out in his viper, eyes wide and full of awe, gazing upon the apparition of Kara Thrace with confounding disbelief.
Her smile is slow and he pays such close attention as the corners of her mouth make their journey upward, instantly washing his doubt away in a wave of relief.
Such a simple gesture and he knows it's her. He knows it deep down into his soul.
Her eyes open to meet his, and just like that they're back on Picon, shaking hands after shellacking their fellow cadets in a training exercise. He can feel the little twinge she's always caused in his stomach, and the way his heart beats just that little extra step in her presence.
He doesn't let himself believe the cylons are capable of recreating anything close to what he feels right now.
"Lee," she says casually. "What's with the suit?"
And just like that his legs are unfrozen and he's hovering over her, throwing his arms around her shoulders and holding her as close as he can, incoherent mumbled words falling out of his mouth and into her ear.
She laughs a little, puts her own arms around him, and reminds him once again that it's really her.
He doesn't say anything. He doesn't ask her any of the questions they wanted him to. He just holds on and breathes her in, and they stay that way until a cold voice crackles through the comm.
"Blood isn't going to convince them," Kara says calmly.
It's unnerving, Lee thinks, this sudden calmness surrounding her. It must be why no one believes. Kara Thrace does not sit still. She doesn't accept imprisonment, whether she deserves it or not, lying down. She never has. She should be screaming her throat raw for everyone to remove the giant pointy sticks from their collective asses, and stop being so paranoid.
They're sitting on the cot facing each other, the both of them well aware of the many pairs of eyes watching them through the glass, far back enough to be hidden in the shadows of the low light of the brig.
"I told them they could take marrow if they wanted, but it was deemed unnecessary."
"They're afraid of you," he says and she laughs.
"You afraid of me too Lee?" She asks.
"No," he says quickly. Never he keeps to himself.
Her eyes are playful and bright and nowhere near the hollow emptiness he'd seen when they had their last conversation on the deck. The guilt is swift and he looks down at his feet and apologizes for making her fly, and she just knocks him on the shoulder
"Don't be a frakking idiot," she says, but there is no malice in her words. "It wasn't your decision to do what I did. It had nothing to do with you."
He nods, but doesn't let himself feel any different.
"What was it like?" He asks softly. "On the other side? What did you see?"
She looks away and doesn't say anything.
"I can't tell you that," she answers after a minute.
"It's what they want to know."
"All I can say is that you'll see it someday."
She turns her head toward the glass.
"All of you will."
He wants to think she's talking about Earth, but somehow he knows she isn't.
His father is not happy.
He sits behind his desk pretending to read through some papers, but Lee knows he's just keeping him waiting for some reason. Lee glances around the office a little surprised that the president isn't here as well. They always seemed to team together nicely when they both wanted the same goal.
"You need to get her talking Lee," His father finally says, pulling back his attention.
We need to find Earth, are words unspoken, we need to beat the cylons there.
"She doesn't want to tell me anything."
"You're the only one she will speak with."
"Have you tried?"
The admiral looks down at his hands. "No."
"You don't believe it's her do you?"
"What I believe is irrelevant. What I want is the information she says she has about Earth. Information that is vital to the survival of this…"
"Cut it out Dad," Lee interrupts.
"It's her. It's Kara."
"You don't know that."
"Yes I do. It is really her. I don't know how, I don't…" He stops and tries to find the right words. "Maybe it's the work of the gods. Maybe there is such a thing as miracles, I don't know. What I do know is that the woman you have locked away like some frakking toaster could be leading us all to Earth. She just isn't talking because of all this distrust we're throwing in her face."
"She died Lee," the Admiral says firmly. "You saw it with your own eyes. You told me yourself that she was gone."
Lee nods. He had done exactly that. But things change, things have changed.
"And now I'm telling you she's alive."
His father falls silent and the room is suddenly still. Lee shifts in his seat and the elder Adama doesn't move at all. Lee almost feels like he's going to be sent to his room without any supper when this conversation is over. He doesn't understand why his father is being this way. Lee assumed, naturally, that he'd be standing right next to his father when they realize she isn't a cylon, welcoming her home with open and tear shed arms. He doesn't quite understand the hesitance from his father at all.
"She can't be," the admiral says softly, breaking the silence.
His father leans forward in his chair, his eyes burning with that legendary intensity.
"Because we don't work that way," he says, his jaw firm and set.
That's how they work, his father doesn't say.
"Dad," Lee begins.
"We're done here," the elder interrupts.
Lee shoots upright in his seat. "No we are not. We're not even close to being done."
A marine opens the door and makes his presence known. Lee looks at him, then incredulously back at his father.
"Escort Mister Adama back to his quarters."
Lee ignores the marine.
"You can't keep me from seeing her," he says.
"That is not an issue. The president has made it clear your presence is necessary in extracting the information we need."
Well, Lee thinks to himself. That is surprising. He looks at his father who now refuses to look back at him, and silently wishes he'd get over whatever issues this is causing. He'd be so much happier if he just accepts the truth.
He gets up from his chair and snaps to attention, saluting his father with a crisp swift movement of his arm.
The gesture is only mocking because of the suit.
"You're different," Lee says quietly.
"I've seen things," she says.
"Things you won't tell me."
"Sorry." The way she says it is almost like a child fresh off a reprimand.
He sighs and shifts so that his back is resting against the wall and he's directly facing the group hovering just outside the cell. He wonders how many more visits they'll allow him if he keeps making zero progress.
He can feel the president's eyes in particular. How they seem to have a dradis lock on him lately.
"So," Kara starts, bring his attention back to her. "You've been in here a couple times, always in your civvies. You going to tell me why?"
"A lot's happened," he says. While you were gone, he keeps to himself.
She nods waiting for him to go on, and laughs a little when he doesn't.
"Lee," she starts.
"I just couldn't," he cuts her off then stops and looks away. "I couldn't do it anymore. Now without…"
She doesn't prod him further when it's clear what he means.
She reaches for him when that cold voice comes over the comm.
This isn't a social visit.
Kara ignores it easily and puts her hand atop his. "It will be different this time," she says. "We're both brand new."
His eyes go wide with the connotations of what that could mean.
Lee sits in a chair in his quarters with a half empty glass of ambrosia resting in his lap. He's not a prisoner per say, but the marine stationed outside his door prevents him from any kind of social interaction. It prevents any unauthorized visits down to the brig and it kind of makes him feel the slightest bit important.
The rational part of him can't wrap his mind around the logistics of Kara's disappearance. He doesn't think of it as her death anymore. He can't. Death and resurrection can only mean cylon and she isn't, she can't be.
He sighs and rubs his brow, cursing this stupid analytical brain he's stuck with. It wants details, coordinates, and a time table to work with. It wants a sit-rep to look over and a big rubber stamp marked classified on every page.
Shifting in his seat he pulls out the two little figures Kara had slipped into his pocket during their embrace goodbye. He doesn't know why she had done so, or what she's trying to tell him. Maybe she's trying to lend him some of her faith, which he finds the slightest bit ironic, being as the only thing he can find himself believing in is her.
Rubbing his thumb over the figures he thinks that maybe he better start counting his blessings, because sooner or later they are going to run out of miracles.
It's been three days since they've allowed him back into her cell. The usual crowd of onlookers has faded over the week they've kept her here and he's glad for it. This situation shouldn't be some spectacle to be broadcast across the wireless. He stands while the marine, whose name he still doesn't know, performs the mandatory pat down. While he waits the cell door opens and out walks the president.
Lee can see Kara just over her shoulder. Fuming is the first word to describe the look on her face that comes to mind, and he wonders just what it took for Roslin to knock her down from the pedestal of calmness she's been perched on since she returned.
The president walks up to him, leans to slightest bit forward, and says "She's a little feisty today."
And then keeps on walking, right past him and out of the brig.
Lee enters the cell to the sight of Kara pacing back and forth, continuously clenching and unclenching her fists. This is what he expected the first time he saw her again, being nothing but fire and fury, her body rigid with muscles taught ready for a fight.
She doesn't seem to notice he's come in, so he makes his way to the cot and has a seat and watches. The smile on his face is small, and he thinks it's a little sick to be happy to see her so mad.
"This seems familiar," he says, causing her to stop in her tracks.
She turns to face him, snaps a finger in the direction of the door, and yells "You tell that frakking bitch that I'm not a cylon! You tell her that she isn't the only one who gets to play martyr, dragging the whole damn fleet to Kobol, when she was dying but didn't die! She doesn't get to play high and mighty when she was saved by cylon blood!"
Her breath lets out in a whoosh, and just like that the anger is gone. Her hands still and fall at her sides and she moves to sit next to him.
He looks at the camera mounted in the corner of the ceiling. "You probably just helped yourself a lot with that little outburst," he says.
"Ha ha," she replies.
"No I'm serious," he goes on. "Flashing some of that Starbuck fury their way probably means that they'll be more inclined to believe. They all think Kara died, but if they see that Starbuck still li-"
"You've got it all wrong," she interrupts softly.
"What do you mean?"
"What if Kara didn't die so Starbuck could carry on this glorious mission to lead us all to Earth? What if…" She pauses to inch closer to him, resting her head gently on his shoulder. "What if Starbuck died so Kara could live?"
That derails his original train of thought. What he thinks he knows, what he thought he knew, none of it seems to matter at all anymore.
He puts his arm around her and for the moment there isn't some crisis alerting the fleet, there isn't the threat of cylon infiltration, or the disturbing lust for her knowledge of Earth. Right now they're just Kara and Lee and he realizes just how much he's missed being able to feel this. To be near her again, to be whole.
He wants to tell her Dee had left him, and maybe it's okay because it had nothing to do with Kara at all, but he knows this isn't the time. He wants to tell her the president is dying, again, but doesn't think that will make matters any better at this point either
It's been three days, three long arduous and boring days without her. Without the fleet, without the mission, without her, he finds very little reason to open his eyes.
"I missed you," he says, and can feel her smile against him.
"It's bright," she says in a whisper. "Beautiful and blue."
He looks down to her but she doesn't look up at him.
Squeezing her slightly and leaning a little closer, he presses a smile into her hair.
Starbuck may be slowly fading away, but Kara will still save them all.
It's late when he's called into his father's office. The marine assigned to guard him stops right outside the hatch, and Lee crosses the threshold alone. His eyes go straight for the desk but the old man isn't sitting behind it. The lights are low, but he wouldn't have been called in had his father been sleeping.
He walks into the center of the room, and a small glint of light catches in the corner of his eye, and he turns his head to see his father hidden away in a chair in the corner. He turns to face him fully. There's a glass in his hand, and Lee can't tell if it's ambrosia or some other alcohol he may have been saving.
It looks as if he's been sitting and drinking alone for hours, and with Adama's that's never a good sign. It doesn't even seem like the old man knows he's here. Lee takes a step closer to him and his head suddenly snaps up, looking around as if he's not sure where he is, the elder Adama's eyes fall on his son and he sits up quickly in his chair.
His movements are shaky, his balance off, and Lee knows he's been drinking a lot longer than the single glass would indicate.
He stands from the chair, wobbles a little, and Lee moves to catch him. His father's hand is tight and firm on his shoulder, and what Lee catches in the dim light of his father's eyes is a knife straight into the heart.
He's seen Kara.
He's talked to her, touched her, been touched by her. He knows now that it is really Kara Thrace locked in that cell.
Lee lets out a breath and matches his father's gesture by placing his own hand on his shoulder, and they stand like that for awhile, just facing each other.
They don't say a word because really, what is there to say?
Kara died, but she is back, and she's not a machine.
Lee knows this, and his father knows this.
Now his father believes.
With two Adama men championing for her rightful status as a human, Kara's stay in her cell becomes more bearable. She's no longer treated as an enemy of the fleet, or some thing to be feared and subject to rash suspicions. Slowly but surely the people begin to believe in miracles again. They begin to accept that Kara herself is one.
Lee argues against the fact that she's kept inside the cell. There's no logical reason to keep her in there when she's done nothing wrong. The argument is, however, her knowledge of Earth can now be considered dangerous. If any of the rogue factions within the fleet decide that they suddenly want said knowledge for themselves, there's no telling what measures could be taken to acquire it.
He doesn't want to think that his own people could ever be considered of such irrational behavior that could easily be attributed to their own demise. But after the mayhem that had been Baltar's trial, and the constant death threats and religious zealots bred as a result, he can't help but rationalize that maybe it is for the best.
She was initially kept there for them to be able to extract said information, and now she's kept there to protect it. The irony is almost laughable.
Lee walks up to the cell and for the first time, he isn't patted down. The marine is still there, and Lee gives him a cursory nod despite the fact that he still doesn't know his name, and he walks right through the bars as free as a man can be inside of a brig.
Kara smiles at him from the spare bed she's been given as an upgrade from the standard prison cot. He hasn't seen a flash of anger from her since that day the president visited and he wonders if it's okay to miss it sometimes.
He presents her with the chocolate bar he'd gone through leaps and bounds to acquire and she quickly breaks it in half and offers it up to him, which he takes and has a seat.
"It will take multiple jumps," she says with her mouth full. "About twenty-five to thirty to reach the system."
Lee looks into the camera mounted in the corner and smiles, thinking to himself that this is what they should have done from the beginning. All you have to do to get what you want is give a little.
When she's escorted toward CIC, the halls are abuzz with murmurs and choruses of belief or regards to the contrary ring out amongst the crew. The walk is not quiet. Lee walks in step next to her and the marines envelop them in a secure human shield. He turns to her and smiles leaning closer to her ear he asks how does it feel to be a rock star?
She laughs a little bit and answers that it feels like this everyday.
The room is already at attention when they walk in. Lee's eyes immediately catch his father's, and then moves to the president's who is standing next to him. Lee thinks that it's popular opinion that slowly wore down Roslin's resistance to Kara. That the constant medical tests she passed with flying colors couldn't be ignored any longer. That prophecy and destiny aren't exclusive to Pythia alone.
When Kara walks up to the Command console the room erupts into clapping and cheers and for a moment Lee thinks his joke isn't that far off.
She stands there for a second, taking it all in, and finally raises a hand to try and silence them all. The crowd hushes as if she's going to say something profound but all she does is turn toward Lt. Gaeta and starts rolling off coordinates to him in such an easy relaxed manner, it's as if she's reading it from a book, instead of reciting it from memory.
Lee watches as a glint of pride lights up in his father's eye, and looks pointedly in a sidelong glance at the president.
Gaeta starts entering all Kara's told him into the FTL computer, and also shouts a few commands to the officers at helm control and tactical.
Lee steps closer to Kara and she bumps him slightly with her shoulder.
"Initiate jump prep," Gaeta blares over the comm.
Kara leans her head just under Lee's jaw and whispers "Told you I'd take you there."
He laughs and catches the attention of his father and the president but he doesn't care.
"Thank you," she says softly. He doesn't have to ask what she means. She's grateful he's the only one who has had her back the entire time of her return. "Do you trust me?" She asks.
He trusts her beyond all reason.
"Do you believe in me?"
He looks down to meet her eyes. She is an angel, a goddess, a savior.