Kara Thrace and her Special Destiny: In which Lee says some stupid things and Kara pretends to be amused. Post Flesh and Bone.

Disclaimer: Don't own 'em.

AN: I feel like I need to preface this because I was having major issues writing this, and it wasn't coming out with the tone I had intended, and the end result was not at all what I was expecting. But here goes.

Lee's on the hangar deck talking to the Chief when she limps out of the Raptor. He spots her over Tyrol's shoulder and if she sees him she gives no indication as she tries to stomp away. With her bum knee, it's more like stomp-hobbling. Lee distractedly wraps up his conversation with the Chief, slapping the clipboard into the other man's hands. As he turns to follow Starbuck, he catches a faint look of amusement from the Chief, but chooses to ignore it.

He heads for the bunkroom as the first place to look. As he walks the corridors, he tries to pin down why he's practically chasing after her. Well, he knows why: he's worried.

He's always worried.

Sure, they were trained in interrogation techniques in Officer Candidate School, but Lee's never done it when it really counted, and neither had she before today.

He's not sure why his father sent Kara. True, there aren't many officers left who've completed OCS. With her knee injury keeping her off CAP, he supposes Starbuck was the logical choice. But 'Starbuck' and 'logical' are two words that are rarely paired together. She lacks patience and the ability to control her rather volatile temper. He wouldn't have sent her to interrogate the Cylon, at least not without someone to play good cop to her bad.

But his father always seems to pick Starbuck, no matter her shortcomings.

Lee cuts off that train of thought before it can distract him from the task at hand: find Kara, talk to Kara. He reasons that he'd be worried about anyone who'd just spent eight hours with the enemy. He's not just concerned because of the odd look on her face that he can't name, or the stiff set of her shoulders as she stomp-hobbled out of the hangar.

Not that he was watching that closely.

He pauses with his hand on the hatch to the bunkroom. Confronting a potentially pissed-off Starbuck doesn't seem like the best of ideas, but he's come this far, so he pushes the hatch open.

She's alone, standing in front of her locker. When she hears the hatch, she spins around to face him, but not before hastily shoving something into her locker and slamming it shut. She crosses her arms and leans against the locker door.

"Hey, Lee."

Now that he's facing her he's not so sure what he's supposed to be doing. She looks normal. Maybe a little tense, but that's to be expected. Trying for casual, he walks over and sits on the bench by her bunk, bumping her good knee with his own as he does so.

"So, Starbuck, I hear you made a new friend." Okay, that sounds lamer than it had in his head. No choice now but to fly with it. "Must be your winning personality."

She snorts indelicately, looking as though that's the stupidest thing she's ever heard. "Yeah, Lee, me and the Cylon are like this." She holds up one hand, two fingers pressed tightly together.

"I bet it was a real party, 'til the President busted it up."

"She took exception to my methods." She says this dryly, quietly, without a hint of her usual aplomb. He's not sure what to make of that. On the one hand, she tends to be more honest this way, but on the other hand, it's difficult to be glad that she's not happy.

She turns her head slightly, swallowing harshly and avoiding his gaze. As she twists her neck to the left a grimace crosses her features and he feels icy coldness come over him at the sight.

"Where," he stammers a little, "where did you get those?" He indicates the dark reddish-purple fingermarks adorning her pale throat, beneath the hard line of her jaw.

Her gaze flicks toward him before darting away again. "Cylon, he –" she swallows again, looks down at her hands; then it's as if a switch has been thrown in her brain because suddenly she's facing him again and the hint of a wry smile is playing across her face. "He took exception to my methods too." She lowers herself into her bunk with some difficulty and his hand on her arm. "Must be that winning personality."

"Must be." He looks at her and tries to cover up his concern because he's sure she'd twist it into pity, and neither of them would like the result. "Seriously, Starbuck. You okay?"

She ignores his attempt to be serious, which he decides to interpret as a good sign. "When am I ever okay?" she asks with a smile and a quirk of the eyebrows.

He thinks that maybe he shouldn't find that as reassuring as he does, but in their post-apocalyptic world just the fact that she's attempting humor is comforting. Some things haven't changed, and Kara's self-deprecating humor is just another one of those inevitable facts of life. Like the fact that his brother and mother are dead, and he never wanted to be a soldier but he doesn't know how to be anything else. He can rail at these certainties all he wants, but they're stronger than him and they don't budge. It's easier to just let her joke; besides, Starbuck's ego barely fits in her cockpit as it is.

"Well, I hear he wasn't too chatty," he says without skipping a beat.

"Oh, he was plenty chatty," she replies, leaning back in her bunk and hauling her bad leg up to rest on the mattress. "All this psycho-babble about streams and scripture." She reaches into some darkened corner of her rack and emerges with a cigar. She lights it up and takes a puff, blowing the smoke in his direction of course. "Says I've got a destiny," she says with a smirk, eyes wide and eyebrows raised.

That's unexpected. What the frak does he know about destiny? He scoffs at the idea. "What kind of destiny could you have? To annoy me for the rest of our natural lives?"

"Everyone has a skill. I happen to be specially endowed with two!"

She laughs, really truly laughs and the sound is as wild and free and jubilant as ever. This, he thinks, this is why he came after her, why he will always come after her. Because at the end of the day, Cylons can steal their homes, their lives, and maybe they can rattle the ever-stoic Starbuck, but as long as he can hear her laughter he thinks he'll make it to tomorrow.

(the end)