Live to Regret – Chapter 1
Rating: T (PG-13)
Disclaimers: They're not mine, I just like to play.
Spoilers: Set after Home, AU Season 2
Summary: Choices that Lee and Kara both made before the end of the world come back to haunt them.
Beta: Kaynara didn't actually read the story for punctuation, spelling and all that, but she and I talked ad nauseam about the plot and how to make it work. I owe her much thanks and gratitude for listening to my ramblings.
A/N: This is my longest BSG fic to date at just over 80 pages. I hope you like it. Please leave me a comment whether you do or not. Constructive criticism makes me a better writer.
Kara knows her body. She's an athlete and a Viper pilot and both traits require her body to work at an optimal capacity. She knows when something's wrong and when something's right and she sure as hell knows something is off at the moment.
Just the thought sends her heart racing and Kara forces herself to breathe, in and out, before she has a full blown panic attack and ends up hyperventilating. There are any number of reasons she could be late - and they don't all end up with her pregnant.
Pregnant - it's not possible. It can't be possible, because if it is she has two choices of a father and neither is all that appealing. One is Sam and while Kara doesn't want to think she came back from Caprica carrying the child of a one-night stand, it's preferable to being pregnant with a Cylon hybrid. She still isn't certain what they did to her in that hospital, but the suspicious scar right near her ovary is enough to have her panicked.
Throwing her arm across her eyes, Kara lets out another heavy sigh. The warning alarm sounds, telling her that missed period or no she's going to have to drag her sorry ass out of this bed and get back in her plane. She doesn't want to. The last thing Kara wants to do right now is face the world.
She just wants her damn period to come.
"You all right?"
Jerking at the unexpected voice, Kara blinks at Lee once, twice and then finally sighs. "Fine."
He frowns and Kara can see the wheels turning behind his eyes. He's been a lot more patient with her in the past few weeks, ever since their sojourn to Kobol and the kiss that preceded it. She's glad for the camaraderie, but confused by it as well. She doesn't need to frak up the last good thing in her life by reading too much into her friendship with Lee. Plus, there's still the promise she made to Sam and while Kara doesn't want to break her word, returning to find Lee so ready and willing to once again be her friend has made lessened the urgency she initially felt. She feels awful about that as well.
Rolling her head away, she covers her eyes again and prays he'll leave. As the bed shifts, she realizes the Gods are still not answering her prayers. Mother frakkers.
"I'm just tired." Her voice is muffled and she doesn't want to face him.
"You could tell me, you know."
Is he actually hurt? Kara hears the strained note to his voice and has to roll over to meet his gaze for confirmation. He is; what the frak?
"Lee, it's nothing, okay? I'm just not - not feeling all that well."
"You want me to reschedule your CAP?"
"I certainly do not." As if to prove her point, Kara pushes past him and rises quickly, flouncing towards her locker in a huff. With a loud sigh of irritation, she pulls the door open, ignoring the groans and grumbles of her bunk mates.
Reaching past her clothes, she grabs her shower bag, towel, and what she hopes are clean undies and slams the door shut. "I'll see you on the flight deck, Captain," she bites out, glaring at him as she stalks from the room.
That condescending son of a ... Kara can't bring herself to curse Caroline's memory, not when the woman was almost her mother-in-law, so she swallows the rest of it and slams into the head. Glowering at the few others in the room, she finds a stall at the back and steps inside, stripping out of her clothes and throwing them over the door and onto the floor before turning on the water and letting it get hot.
As she dips her head beneath the steady stream, she feels a bit of the tension leave her body. It's not as if being a few days late is such a big deal. Hell, she'd been a week late before and that-
Kara stops the thought instantly, her body shuddering slightly as the memory comes back. Unconsciously, one hand floats to her stomach, her palm resting against the gentle curve of her belly just above her belly button. Yeah, she'd been a week late before and she had been pregnant. Look how well that turned out.
She thinks she feels a cramp and Kara scoffs at the idea that it might be a sympathy pain. It had damn well better be PMS, she thinks as she grabs her washcloth and bar of soap and works up a good lather.
As she's coming off CAP later that day, she rushes to the bathroom and is confronted with stained underwear.
Thank the Gods.
Three days later, she's not as thrilled. It seems that her visit to the Farm frakked with her cycle and Kara has found herself bleeding far more than normal. With typical Starbuck aplomb, she chooses to ignore it.
A cheap shot from Lee jolts her back to reality and Kara dodges, narrowly missing his gloved fist. He's actually grinning; of course, with the mouth guard he looks like a fool, and Kara takes a little pleasure in that – before she swings up and jabs hard, connecting with the underside of his jaw.
"Too slow, Apollo. Too slow." She loves to taunt while they spar, mostly because she knows he hates it.
He still does. "All talk and no action, Kara."
She smirks. It's possible it's just another taunt, another turn of phrase, but as they circle each other, sweat dripping down their faces, hands raised to protect their features, she has to wonder if it isn't more of a challenge. It's no secret their friendship has always been complicated. It's no secret they're as close as siblings and the best of friends.
What is secret is whether or not they could ever handle more. Kara likes to think that maybe, maybe if she found a way not to be an eternal screw-up, she and Lee actually could make a go of something. It's not as if she isn't attracted to him – she does have eyes. But it transcends the physical. For Starbuck, Apollo is the only person she can trust as a wingman. For Kara, Lee is the only man she can trust. Period.
He's stalking again, a few swipes meant to knock her off balance his only attempt at attack. She grins and keeps her distance. This they know how to do. Feint and parry; strike and lunge. This is familiar.
Kara is starting to get bored.
"Pass the word, Captain Adama, report to Life Station. Captain Adama, report to Life Station."
As Gaeta's summons rings through the room, Kara steps in and takes one more shot, hitting Lee squarely in the stomach. He doubles over, gasping for breath and Kara smirks, triumphant. "Sloppy, Apollo. Damn sloppy."
He's still heaving for breath. She shouldn't fall for it. Kara knows he's fine, she didn't even hit him that hard, but like an idiot, she takes a step forward, the tiniest sliver of guilt worming its way into her consciousness. "Lee, are you-"
With a low growl, Lee wraps his arms around her waist and tackles her to the mat, effectively knocking the wind from her as well. She hits hard, but her body has already tensed for the fall and she absorbs most of the impact. Except for her kidneys where most of Lee's weight is centered – and now it hurts.
"Frak, Lee. Get off."
She pants and pushes at his shoulder, blinking back the stinging tears of pain. If she has to guess Kara's going to say this is another result of the chop job the Cylons did to her on Caprica. Her left hip has been more sensitive since her return than ever before and since her cycle started a few days ago its been throbbing at regular intervals.
Opening her eyes, Kara props herself on her elbows, wincing slightly as the motion brings another stab of pain. "Yeah, fine." Nodding towards the door, Kara tries to deflect his attention. "You'd better get a move on. Cottle's not exactly a patient man."
"Frak, Cottle." The statement surprises her and Kara studies his gaze more diligently. He's really worried. Reaching out a hand, he rests it to her shoulder for only a second before snatching it back. Her skin tingles from the contact. "You're not all right. What happened?"
So apparently, she's going to have to demonstrate how "fine" she is. "Nothing." Kara would grow tired of his concern if she didn't find it endearing; not that she'll ever tell him that. "I'm telling you, I'm fine. See?" To prove the point, she rolls to her right, ready to push herself up and onto her feet. Pressing her palms into the mat, she tries to get up and fails as more pain shoots through the left side of her body.
"Kara. You're bleeding."
Puzzled, Kara turns her head, catching Lee's pale face over her shoulder. Following his gaze, she sees the smear of blood on the mat and knows it isn't a result of one of Apollo's punches. How old is she, thirteen?
"Frak." Struggling to get to her feet, she feels Lee's arm move around her waist. She wants to shrug him off and tell him to go frak himself, but she's ashamed to admit that her knees are weak and she's not feeling all that steady at the moment. "I'm fine," she assures him quietly, leaning a bit too heavily against him for it to be true. "Just overdid it is all."
"Uh huh." He clearly doesn't believe her. Tightening his hold around her waist, he steers them towards the door, reaching for his sweatshirt along the way. "Here." He pauses, leaning her against his chest as he wraps the shirt around her waist, covering the stain on the back of her shorts.
"Thanks." She murmurs. "Just get me to the head."
"No way, you're seeing Cottle." She groans. "You can argue all you want, but that's where I'm heading, so you're coming with me."
She doesn't argue.
"Doc, can I go now?"
Doc Cottle's bushy eyebrows rise as he continues to make notes in her chart. "I swear to the Lords of Kobol, I don't know what I ever did to get a patient like you."
Kara smirks. She swings her feet absently over the edge of the exam table, glancing about the curtained off area. She hasn't seen Lee since he dropped her off, a small squeeze of his hand to hers more reassuring than any words. She was glad he hadn't asked for a full blown explanation, but she isn't stupid enough to think he won't push the issue later. He's persistent.
"I'm sure it's your winning personality," Kara retorts, offering him her sweetest grin as he stares at her through his cigarette smoke. "But seriously, can I go?"
Shaking his head, he doesn't answer. Instead, he flips her chart shut and leans back against the small cart across from her. "Out of all the kids I've examined today, you're the worst."
"Kids? I didn't realize there were an abundance of those on Galactica."
"There aren't. Not normally." Cottle takes two more drags on his cigarette before snuffing it out in a bed pan. "But our President has finally gotten around to doing something about the fleet's orphan problem. She's asked me to do physicals on the wayward babes, make sure they're all healthy before setting up an adoption agency."
Kara nods. "Sounds reasonable." Scowling, she adds, "And I'd be a lot more agreeable if you'd tell me what the frak's wrong and then let me go."
He sighs heavily and then speaks. "Fine. What's wrong is that as of four weeks ago you only have one ovary. Your body is trying to compensate and doing a shitty job."
Kara feels her cheeks blush and drops her eyes to her lap. Cottle gives her a minute before continuing his assessment. "I would guess that in about five to six months your body will settle itself into a rhythm, learn to adjust. But until it does, we'll need to closely monitor your cycles. Losing too much blood could cause a host of problems I really don't want to address."
"You and me both," she mutters. She's quiet again, her fingers having found a loose thread on the worn gown. She's toying with it, unable to settle her fears. After a moment, she asks, "So, what they did? Is it bad?"
"It's certainly not good." Cottle's eyes narrow for a moment before he continues. "There's a reason the Gods made you with two ovaries in the first place. As you can guess, this will greatly hamper your chance of ever conceiving a child. And there could be complications later in life when you're ready to go through the change. But for now, things should remain fairly normal. As I said, until your cycle manages to level out, we'll have to keep an eye. I'd like to make sure we put you on a double round of contraceptive shots as well. Can't be too careful."
Kara wishes he'd dismiss her. She wants to get the hell out of there. She doesn't want to think about children or her inability to have them or even contraceptive shots. She just wants to go back to the gym and hit something really hard until she forgets the Cylon Farm and Sam and Caprica and the end of the worlds and Lee's concern and Zak's angelic face-
She shudders, a small shiver shooting down her spine. Crossing her arms over her chest, she rubs her forearms and takes a deep breath. "All right, double dose of contraceptives. Got it. Now can I go?"
"Worse than a two-year-old," Cottle grumbles as he nods his ascent. "Make an appointment with Ishay for your first set of shots and if there are any changes in your cycle, any at all, get your ass down here pronto."
She nods and then watches him leave. Once the curtain shuts behind him, Kara finally lets out the breath she's been holding. The exhalation bends her spine and she drops her chin to the top of her chest. Closing her eyes, she breathes in and out, willing her heart to stop racing. Three years ago, the chance to have a baby or not wouldn't have affected her this way. But now, Cottle's words and the knowledge that she may never conceive hurts more than she thought possible.
If she'd known back then this would happen she would have played it differently. Kara may be a screw-up, but she knows the importance of family. She knows it because her mother destroyed the concept for her, and Zak rebuilt it. Zak rebuilt it and the Old Man maintains it and Lee reinforces it. So now, she understands. Now, she knows how important that bond is. It's sacred and she spat on it.
Another chill shakes her from her reverie and Kara forces herself to get dressed and get the frak out of here. Ishay has supplied an extra pair of scrubs to replace her stained shorts and she's grateful. Slipping the worn material on, she bundles up her dirty clothes and packs them under her arm. Stepping into Life Station, she grabs a nearby nurse. "Have you seen Captain Adama?"
Shaking her head, she answers. "He left after the doctor took his blood sample. Didn't say where he was headed."
"'Kay, thanks." Kara frowns as the woman retreats. Lee was all matter of concerned when he brought her down here, but now it appears she's the last thing on his mind. And why would Cottle need a blood sample?
Shaking her head, Kara takes a few ginger steps towards the hatch. Frak, she's sore and her side is still burning. With a deep breath, she reaches the bulkhead and steadies herself. Then, throwing her shoulders back in pure Starbuck fashion, she saunters back to the pilot's bunkroom.
"Lee, what gives?" Kara doesn't give him a chance to prepare his defense as she steps over the jamb and into the bunkroom. It's mostly empty and she's grateful. It's not easy to hide the grimaces of pain and she's not really in the mood to explain them either. "You just abandon me in Life Station? What's a girl gonna think?"
No, he's not. He's not sorry, he's not contrite; hell, he's barely coherent. Slowly, she rounds the table and makes it to the edge of his bunk. His hands are behind his head and he's staring at the blank metal above him. "Seriously, Apollo. What's up?"
"Nothing, all right? Gods, Kara, leave it alone."
"Somebody didn't take their happy pills this morning," Kara mutters, glaring at him as he finally meets her gaze. With a roll of his eyes and a heavy sigh, he just goes back to staring. "Fine, don't tell me."
Ignoring the pain, she makes it to her bunk, dumping her dirty clothes in the hamper on the way. Gingerly, she sits on the edge of her bed, and works her boots off. The room stays quiet and Kara refrains from egging him again. She really wants to, but the pain meds the doc gave her are wearing off and it's hard to formulate stinging comebacks and concentrate on breathing simultaneously.
"You know, it's not like you ever tell me anything."
Looking up, Kara is confronted with Lee's accusatory glare from across the room. "What?"
"I've asked you a half a dozen times what the hell happened on Caprica. And do you know how many times you've given me an answer? Zero."
"Maybe what happened on Caprica is none of your business," she growls, already feeling her cheeks burn with shame and anger.
"Maybe what happened in Life Station is none of yours," he answers, his tone just as low and menacing.
They're staring now and Kara recognizes the impasse they've reached. Typical.
"And if it isn't Caprica, it's something else," Lee adds after a moment. He's on a roll now, Kara can see it by the way his eyes widen slightly before narrowing back to slits. He's got some momentum and he's not afraid to use it. "It's Colonial Day and the Academy and Zak all over again."
"Shut up, Lee." She wants to tell him he's wrong, but she knows it's the truth. She does avoid confiding in him at just about every cost. Of course, because he's Lee, he takes it personally. He thinks her unwillingness to unburden herself on him is because she finds him lacking in some way; not strong enough to handle the emotional baggage she could pile on.
And he couldn't be more wrong. It's her. That baggage has been stowed away, safe and secure for months, maybe years. Opening it again and dragging that luggage out of storage would only serve to hurt. Kara doesn't want to hurt anymore.
Of course, she knows that whether she confides in him or not, she won't hurt any less either.
"It kills you, doesn't it?" He hasn't let it go. Rising, Lee stalks across the room and stands in front of her. She knows he gets an ego trip off the height difference and decides to let him have a nice ride; she's too tired for a stand-off anyway. "It kills you to even think of letting anyone behind that vaunted Starbuck exterior."
"Have you ever thought you won't like it?" she challenges, her eyes never once leaving his. "Have you ever thought it's not a nice place to be?"
Leaning over, Lee's face is so close she can feel his breath against her nose as he speaks. "That's what you don't get, Kara. I know I won't like it. In fact, I'm pretty sure I'll hate it." He pauses, his blue eyes searching hers for something Kara is unwilling or unable to identify. After a second, the icy blue warms just a tad and Kara reminds herself to breathe as his expression softens. "I know I won't like it and I don't care. I still want to know."
There's no response for that. Kara feels an overwhelming urge to punch him. Or kiss him. He's close, it'd be easy to wrap her hand behind his neck and pull him towards her, easy for her lips to lock with his and shut up his arguments at least for a while.
Flexing her hands into fists, Kara slaps them against the bed. "No, Lee, you really don't want to know." Lying on her bunk, she assumes his pose from earlier. "I've got three hours before CAP and I'd really like to get some sleep."
Lee stands still for a minute, his eyes watching her before stomping back to his own bunk and pulling the curtain viciously. With an inaudible sigh, Kara pulls her own and prays for sleep.