Title: Every Time My Heart Beats
Warnings: mild language (all chapters)
Characters: Lee/Kara, BSG ensemble, others of author's invention
Time period: Beginning on the eve of the Galactica's decommissioning and flashing back to Lee and Kara's meeting at the Academy and forward
Disclaimers: Others own all BSG characters; I have just borrowed them. The author-created characters are mine.
Dedication: To all the wonderful Lee/Kara shippers everywhere
Summary: How Lee and Kara met and what happened prior to the Miniseries
Author's Note: Very little is canon, but I think it could have happened this way
Author's Note 2: This story was written during late 2007 and early 2008 before the series version of Kara and Lee's first meeting that ended in their infamous drunken tabletop/pigeon/broom encounter from which they were apparently never able to recover. I have chosen not to alter my story to fit the retcon so it stands as originally written.
Captain Lee Adama signed his name on the post-flight checklist, handed the clipboard back to the young crewman and nodded curtly in reply to her soft Thank you, sir. He was aware of the interest in her eyes. He had seen it before, but now as he had done then, he ignored it. She was attractive and appealing on several levels, but she was enlisted crew, and fraternization between officers and enlisted personnel was against regulations. If there was one thing that he could say about his career so far, it was that he had lived it by the rules, the regulations and the laws.
Even if the fraternization regulation had not existed however, he would not have pursued a relationship with her. Three months earlier he had given his girlfriend Gianne an engagement ring. It was either that or another emotionally draining breakup, and at the time getting engaged seemed to be the easier of the two alternatives.
She still had the ring, but four weeks ago she had broken up with him anyway in a tearful and emotional scene that made him wince every time he thought about it. He was still dealing with the aftermath of that scene, and her news that he was going to become a father. The last thing he needed was another woman in his life. He couldn't even deal with the one he had.
Maybe it was those pregnancy hormones that had caused Gianne's emotional outburst. Maybe it was his reaction to the news. And maybe it was because Gianne knew she wasn't and never would be the woman in Lee Adama's heart. It was probably all three.
He forced his thoughts back to the present. He was at the end of a five-day duty rotation and was now looking forward to forty-eight hours off. His first priority was a hot shower and his second was some serious rack time.
After ten months spent completing War College on Picon, he had been back on the Atlantia for barely a month and was having trouble adjusting once again to life on a battlestar. He took a deep breath, relishing how good that hot shower was going to feel, and afterward the fresh, clean sheets of his bunk.
"Apollo, sir, hold up a minute." Lee looked around to see the Crew Chief hurrying across the hangar deck. He stopped briefly to speak to the two crewmen working on Lee's Viper. "Start prepping this bird for a long-range flight. You heard me right. To Caprica."
Then he turned to Lee. "CAG wants to see you, sir. He called down while you were landing. I let him know you'd be delayed a few minutes for post-flight." He turned to go and then turned back around. "He said to tell you not to worry. It's good news this time."
Lee nodded his thanks and finally exhaled the breath he had been holding. Good news this time. Getting called to the CAG's office from the hangar deck had never been good news for him, starting with the time two years ago when it had been to tell him of Zak's death in a training accident.
Zak. Even now his death could still pierce Lee's heart with razor-sharp pain. How long did it take to get over the loss of a brother? Would he ever get over the loss of his brother? Thoughts of Zak were always quickly followed by thoughts of Kara. Would he ever get over losing her either? Not to death as he'd lost Zak, but to his own blind pride, and his jealous stupidity plus his arrogant assumption that Kara could forget what they had once been to each other. He looked up. He was outside the CAG's office.
"Come in, Captain, have a seat. Crew Chief Banks told you it wasn't bad news, I hope."
"Yes, sir. It still had me going for a minute."
He picked up several sheets of paper from his desk. "Congratulations. You've been selected to lead the flyover team at the Galactica's decommissioning ceremony day after tomorrow. That's quite an honor, Lee."
"I've been…what, sir?"
"This comes straight from Admiral Nagala's office. Probably his PR people. You've got to admit it's good. Your father's ship. Son leads the flyover team. Somebody's on the ball down there."
"I'd like to decline, sir."
The CAG looked surprised. "Maybe I didn't make myself clear. These are orders, not an invitation. Why would you even want to decline? As I said, it's an honor. It will look very good on your record."
"I've got my reasons."
The CAG waited. "Not good enough, I'm afraid," he finally said.
Lee made another attempt. "My father…we argued about…" Lee took a breath and blew it quickly out. "He and I don't see eye to eye on a lot of things. When I was growing up he wasn't there much…and then there's the issue of how he pushed my brother into being a Viper pilot and got him killed. I don't want to…It's just that I'd rather not be part of…" his voice trailed off as he realized that he sounded like a whiney kid.
"So you're speaking of personal issues."
"Yes, sir…personal issues."
Lee heard an edge of irritation in the CAG's voice. "Your father has one of the finest records in the service. You of all people should realize that you don't rise through the ranks to command a battlestar without dedication and without sacrifices…on many fronts. I understand what a lot of those sacrifices are. I have a wife and son back on Gemenon. You probably feel that you paid a price for his career with all the absences."
"And my mother," Lee blurted. "And my brother. We all paid a price."
"And you think he didn't? I'm sorry, Captain. Whatever your personal feelings are, you're going to have to put them aside and obey these orders." Then his voice softened. "It's one day, Lee. Not even a whole day. Just a couple of hours. What's that out of a lifetime? Nothing. Right? You go in, lead the flyover, and you're out. That's it. You've been given a leave day on either side of the assignment. Plenty of time to see that girlfriend on Caprica."
Lee accepted defeat and rose. "Yes, sir." He reached out and took the orders packet that the CAG handed him. "I'll do my best."
"I know you will, Lee. You always do your best. See you in four days. Good flying."
On Caprica the next morning Lee called his mother and arranged to meet her for lunch at her favorite restaurant in the city. Their relationship had changed for the better during the past five or six years and especially in the two years since Zak's death. Before that was a different story. During his youth and adolescence, his mother had often drunk too much and had taken out her loneliness and bitterness on him.
Her abuse was mostly verbal and only rarely physical, but there were times Lee would have preferred blows to the emotional devastation her words wreaked. Most of the time she would cry afterward, beg him to forgive her and promise him she was never going to do it again. And she wouldn't. Until the next time.
It didn't happen every day, or even every week. Sometimes there were long stretches, months even when she was just his mother. The one who took him to ball practices, bandaged his scrapes, and read his spelling words to him so he could practice. During the times that his father was home, peace usually reigned. But once his father left, it usually wasn't long before something would set her off, and Lee's life would become hell once again.
He got good at recognizing some of her triggers. It could be as insignificant as a particular song playing on the radio, or as important as a call from his father saying he wasn't going to make it home for a birthday or an anniversary. But there were other times when Lee had no idea what had triggered her dark rage, and by the time he realized what was happening, there was nothing he could do or say that would stop her from taking that first drink or the next one or the next. The few times she had actually hit him were the times he had tried to take the bottle away from her.
He got good, too, at getting Zak out of her way, but for reasons Lee never fully understood, his mother never went after Zak the way she did him. Maybe because it would have been easier to kick a puppy than it would have been to unleash those brutal words on Zak. Zak who had such trusting brown eyes and who was so gentle and open with his affection. Zak who would creep into her room when she was drunk and crying and pat her shoulder with his chubby little hand. Zak who could say, "Don't cry. I love you Mommy," the way Lee never could. Zak, who wasn't the reason she had to marry Bill Adama.
Sometime during his years at the Academy, he had begun to realize the part his father had played in his mother's drinking and her pain and her bitter rages. His understanding started when he took the introductory Psychology course that was required for all students. It continued as he heard others talk about their own childhoods with absent fathers or mothers who had put a military career ahead of being there for spouses and children. And finally Lee understood that the man he had loved and idolized his entire life had not cared enough to see what was happening to all of them or worse yet, had seen it but chose to ignore it.
The year Lee had graduated from the Academy, however, his mother had met Dr. Henry Rollins, curator of Caprica's Natural History Museum, a gentle, soft-spoken man who had gotten her into a program for alcoholics and helped her get treatment for the bouts of depression that had plagued her all of her life. The result was akin to a miracle. A year later his mother had written him a six-page letter that he still had tucked away in the bottom of his locker. In it she admitted her problems, told him of her demons, and begged his forgiveness. That letter was the turning point at which she gradually became his mother again.
Zak's death had been the event that had cemented their new relationship. She had turned to him for support, and when he looked into her eyes and saw his own pain reflected there, he had finally been able to forgive her and put the worst of the past behind him. She was his mother, after all, and though he was rarely able to say it, he loved her.
When his mother arrived at the restaurant, she was beaming and wasted no time in holding out her hand. The ring was beautiful. A center stone that sparkled with the brilliance of a white star, and on either side, blue stones the color of the sky at twilight.
"It's about time," he grinned. "I'm surprised Henry waited this long."
"He asked me a few months after Zak died." His mother bowed her head and took a deep breath. When she looked up at him, there were tears forming in her eyes. "But I wasn't ready then. Henry said the center stone is for me, for us, but the side ones, they're you and Zak…the family he's becoming part of. I know Zak's gone, but…." The tears spilled over and she hastily wiped her eyes. "Zak is still in my heart, and Henry knows how much both you boys mean to me. I look at my ring and see our family."
"So when's the wedding?"
"We haven't set a date yet, but I'll let you know in plenty of time so you can be here. Henry wanted to ask you to stand up with him as best man, but I told him you were going to walk me down the aisle. How was I ever lucky enough to find Henry?"
"Because you deserve happiness," Lee answered her. "After years of…of Dad, you deserve someone attentive and kind like Henry. Someone who's there for you."
His mother reached across the table and squeezed his hand. "Yes, Henry is good for me, good to me, but you're far too hard on your father. All my time with him wasn't bad. We had some wonderful times together. And we had you and Zak. For my sake won't you please forgive him and try to put your differences behind you?"
Lee looked out over the restaurant. "The last ten or twenty times we've talked about this we've gotten nowhere. Let's talk about something else."
"He loves you, Lee. I know because…"
"Drop it, Mother. Please."
"I was going to say because I talked to him. We had a long talk, some months ago, maybe nearly a year. Everything is all right now between us. It wasn't all his fault, you know. When you were younger, I was drinking and miserable and lonely…"
"Stop making excuses for him. He chose assignments that took him away from home. He chose to be posted to battlestars. But the worst is what he did to Zak."
"No, Lee. That's one of the things I've come to realize. I made choices. Zak made choices, too. Yes, Bill thought Zak should be in the military, but he didn't force him. Zak made that decision on his own, in part because he idolized you so much and that was the path you chose. Please, promise me tomorrow when you see Bill you won't…be so hard on him. He loves you and he loved Zak. He's so proud of you. Of what you've accomplished…" she stopped. "Oh, don't look at me like that."
"What do you expect me to say? You know how I feel."
"And you know how I feel. Be kind to your father tomorrow. Please say you'll at least give him a chance. Lee…Lee, are you listening to me?"
He wasn't. The pianist seated across the restaurant had begun playing a hauntingly beautiful melody that took his breath away. Six years vanished, and Lee was at his senior-year Academy dance, outside in the dark on the terrace, moving slowly to the music with Kara in his arms. The poignancy of that memory was so sharp it hurt. He took another deep breath trying to control it.
"Lee, you aren't paying a bit of attention to me, are you?"
"I'm listening to that song. It reminds me of Kara. She told me once that her father used to play it for her when she was a little girl. It's called Every Time My Heart Beats."
"Yes, it is pretty, isn't it? I'm glad you mentioned Kara. I saw her several weeks ago. She was back here for a few days leave with that friend of hers, oh, what's his name? The tall one. His sister was getting married."
"That's him. I met them for lunch one day. Right here in this restaurant as a matter of fact. We sat outside even though it was too warm for me. They both wanted to sit in the sun. I remember when Bill was home how much he liked to sit out by the pond."
"Sunshine is in short supply on a battlestar."
"You know her mother died sometime during this past year. Kara didn't mention it but when she went to the restroom, I asked Karl if she was all right. She'd been so quiet. He told me. She hasn't seen her father since she was a child. He asked me not to mention it. Kara could have taken compassionate leave to be with her before she died, but she chose not to."
"Kara mentioned her mother only once to me. I got the impression it wasn't a good relationship. How did she die?"
"Some kind of cancer. I was sorry Henry wasn't here. He was on a trip to Virgon to look at some artifacts the museum wanted to acquire. You know how fond Henry is of Kara. And she of him. I told him that we should adopt Kara. I think she needs a surrogate father and mother. Henry told me we should consult you before we go acquiring a sister for you."
Lee choked and spewed the sip of water he had just taken down the front of his uniform. "Gods damn it!" he cursed as he began blotting himself with his napkin.
"Lee, watch your language."
"Sorry, Mother," he said. "How is Kara other than not having much to say?"
"She looks good, but she seems…I don't know exactly…changed somehow. Harder, maybe. Not quite the Kara I remember. There's a toughness, an edge to her now that bothers me. She wasn't like that with Zak."
"I'm sure losing Zak affected her."
"I'm sure, but still…" His mother frowned and shook her head gently. "There's something else. I felt it, but I don't have a clue what it is. Several times when I was talking she couldn't look at me. Almost like she feels guilty about something. I can't imagine what. Zak's accident wasn't her fault. It was just that…an accident. She knows I don't blame her. Do you have any idea what could be wrong?"
"I haven't seen her in two years. And I think you're way off base about the guilt thing." Lee forced himself to look at his mother. "Kara's got nothing to feel guilty about. If anybody should feel guilty, it's me."
"For not doing more to stop Zak from trying to become a Viper pilot. For…for a lot of things."
"Lee, becoming a pilot was Zak's choice. Kara mentioned that she hadn't heard from you since the funeral. Is there a reason you haven't contacted her?"
"I wrote her a letter and she answered it but that was all. I'm sure I'm nothing but a reminder of Zak's death to her."
"Did you and Kara have some sort of falling out or argument after the funeral? I know she came to the house afterward, but I was so distraught I barely noticed who stayed and who left early."
"That night…no, we didn't argue or have any kind of falling out. She did try to tell me something about Zak but I told her he was dead and to lay it to rest."
"I'm glad you two didn't argue. I know you didn't approve of Zak seeing her so when you said…well, I was afraid maybe you had said something to that effect to her."
"Look, Mother," Lee started hotly and then softened the tone of his voice. "It's not that I didn't approve of Zak seeing Kara. I just thought they were moving too fast. I mean they'd only known each other a couple of months and they were already planning to get married."
"Bill and I only knew each other a few months before we got married."
"Yeah, and we both know how that turned out."
Lee saw a flash of pain in her eyes and then she mastered her emotions. She lifted her chin. "I don't suppose I can blame you for being cruel. I taught you well, didn't I?"
Lee looked down. "I'm sorry."
"The day we had lunch, Kara asked about you."
"She was just being polite."
"I told her that you were fine. That you had finished War College on Picon and were back on the Atlantia. But she seemed to know that already. I also told her you were engaged to a nice girl here on Caprica."
"Oh, great. I'm sure she's interested in my love life."
"Interested enough to ask me if it was the bartender, and I told her no, that Gianne was a teacher's assistant at a private school. It wasn't until I was on my way home that I remembered Gianne once tended bar at the Caprican Hills Hotel. That must have been years ago."
Lee nodded. "While I was at the Academy…while Kara and I were there. You know Gianne's father owns that hotel and eight or ten like it."
"Yes, I know. I told Kara I'd like to see you and Gianne set a date and get married."
"I'll bet she got a good laugh out of that."
"Actually she did. She looked at her friend Karl and said, 'Can you see Apollo walking down the aisle with a school teacher?' Or something like that and they both laughed. Then she very seriously said Gianne wouldn't have an easy life married to a pilot. She said 'married to Lee', but I'm sure she meant married to a pilot. She was polite enough not to say but you already know that having once been married to a pilot yourself. She was thinking it, though, I know she was."
"She's right. I would make Gianne a lousy husband. I'd make anybody a lousy husband. It's not something I want to do in the near future. Maybe never."
"So you're telling me I won't be getting grandchildren any time soon," his mother said lightly. "I guess if you aren't ready to marry Gianne then you aren't…what's the matter? Why are you looking at me like that? Lee, are you all right?"
"Oh, Lee. Why didn't you tell me?"
"She broke up with me."
"Four weeks ago, right before I went back to the Atlantia I saw her, and when she told me I said the wrong thing."
"I asked her if she was sure."
"Bill asked me the same thing when I told him I was pregnant with you. I didn't break up with him because of it. What happened?"
"Gianne started crying and accused me of not loving her and not wanting the baby. She said I probably thought she'd done it on purpose to trap me into marrying her. And when I didn't deny it, she accused me of being in love with…" Lee stopped. He'd almost gone too far. "…of being in love with somebody else and just using her for sex."
"Is there any truth to that accusation?"
Lee shrugged and made the mistake of looking at his mother.
"It's Kara, isn't it?" She asked in one of those intuitive leaps that only his mother could have made.
"Kara is the reason you can't totally commit to Gianne, isn't she? Do you think I'm blind? Do you think I didn't notice you two that night at dinner when Zak told you they were getting married?" When he didn't answer, she said, "Oh, Lee."
"I'm going to tell you like I told Zak. Nothing ever happened with Kara and me while we were at the Academy. Kara looks at me only as a friend...if even that much now. Yes, I had a crush on her a long time ago. Yes, I still think about her sometime, but you've got to understand. Kara loved Zak. Kara never cared about me that way and she never will."
"But your feelings for her are keeping you from committing to Gianne?"
"It's not just that. Gianne and I have been on and off for what, eight or nine years now. I gave her the ring three months ago because we were getting ready to break up again. I was trying to finish War College and I didn't need another emotional guilt-trip laid on me. It's not that I don't care about her. I do. She's just not the woman I want to spend the rest of my life with."
"Well, that doesn't matter now. A child is involved. How did you leave things?"
"She told me to get out of her life. She left me standing at the Plaza and ran off."
"And you let her? Are you telling me you haven't talked to her in four weeks?"
Lee looked down and shook his head.
"Lee, you can't leave things like that. She didn't make this baby by herself. You're going to be a father. I don't care how you feel or don't feel. I don't care if you think she did it to trap you or not. There's a child on the way. Your child. You've got to do the right thing."
"The right thing. What the frak is the right thing? If I thought I wouldn't be any better father than the one I had, I'd just shoot myself and spare Gianne and my child the misery. That would be the right thing."
"I didn't mean that."
"Whether you marry her or not, you will support your child. You've got to make Gianne understand that you will take responsibility for your child."
"She's rich, Mother. Offering her money would just insult her."
"That's not what I'm talking about. I mean emotional support. Being involved in your child's life. Being a father to your son or daughter."
"All right. I'll call her day after tomorrow when I get back from the Galactica. She may not even talk to me, but if she will, I'll try to work out how I'm going to do that. Happy now?"
"Just make sure I get to see my grandchild." His mother smiled. "Oh, I can't wait to tell Henry. I'm going to be a grandmother. We're going to be grandparents."
Author's Note: The subject of his mother's abuse of Lee has been the topic of much speculation among shippers, and while I agree that abuse happened as per Lee's comment to his father in ADITL, there are other scenes that show that by the time of Zak's death, Lee and his mother had reconciled. In AOC, he is shown with his arm around her at Zak's funeral, and in the Miniseries, part 2, his eyes fill with tears as he looks at her picture in his father's quarters.