Title: The Broken Road
Rating: M (There will be smut later)
Summary: The road to Earth is a journey of the heart.
Spoilers: WARNING! Season 4 speculation, promos, and possible spoilers running rampant!
Disclaimer: I have borrowed these characters for my own personal enjoyment. No monetary gain or copyright infringement intended.
Credits: Thanks to mlsky for the transcripts and very special thanks to the uber talented CranberryJei and SamStarEagle for their awesome beta work.
Dedication: To the Kara and Lee shippers on skiffy. You rock!
AN: The inspiration for this fic came from the Lee and Kara thread on skiffy when someone prompted "What if Kara didn't die in Maelstrom and we still got the reunion hug?" I knew that I was going to have to dust off my pen and take this one on. It niggled me for a while but it wasn't until I was thinking about one of my favorite films that it started to come together. I have blatantly borrowed dialogue from the Robert Zemikis/Jodie Foster flick Contact where I thought it fit in this story. AU from Maelstrom. I have taken liberties with the end of the season and also with promos and possible spoilers for S4. Some things in canon may or may not happen, you'll just have to read along… Please forgive my lack of original creativity, I was a professional motion picture editor and I am a total amateur writer.
CHAPTER ONE: Reunion
Kara regained consciousness as her viper careened through the gas clouds at the brink of the hard deck. Her awareness shifted from the surreal experience with psuedo-Leoben and Socrata to the very real pleading of Lee Adama through the comm piece. Another flash like lightning outside her canopy made her turn her head. This time she saw Zak standing in her old apartment, his hand reaching out to her. She smiled.
"I'm not afraid anymore" she whispered to Lee. I am happy for you… really. "Just let me go."
Surely this was the end and the gods had sent Zak to show her the way to Elysium. Her heart soared and she was filled with unmitigated contentment. The demons that had haunted her young life had been exorcised. She was ready to let go of this world and follow Zak into the hereafter.
"They're waiting for me."
Suddenly the cylon heavy raider appeared right in front of her. She did not startle, though her thumb instinctively slid over the trigger.
"I'll see you on the other side." She pressed the button unleashing the wing-mounted cannons.
The heavy raider exploded in an impressive display not unlike a thousand fireworks over Delphi on Colonial Day. She was blinded by the light but she did not fight for control as her viper oscillated through the debris field. Her hands drifted off the joy stick, she closed her eyes and exhaled- ready for whatever was to come.
Lee's heart was a hammer in his chest and a bass drum in his ears. His throat burned from the futile attempts to convince Kara to listen to him. Not having seen the heavy raider he considered for the briefest second that she was on a suicide mission. He shook that thought off and strained to find Kara in the thick swirling clouds in which she had disappeared. Her last, barely audible words had sent a chilling panic through him and as he struggled to keep his emotions in check, the explosion stunned him.
"Nooooooo!" He roared. Long after his voice gave out his mind continued to scream so loudly that he barely heard his father's voice telling him to pull up. It was the only thing that prevented him from following Kara into the hard deck.
Waking from what she perceived to be a few hours of sleep, Kara felt better that she had in years. She yawned lazily, opened her eyes, and found herself on a beach with a pristine shore and teal green water that darkened to deep blue at the horizon. A brilliant sun radiated warmth but the temperature seemed just right to be comfortable in her rubber flight suit. Gentle breezes played in her hair and she tasted salt on her lips.
Behind her, just past the dunes, were the ruins of ancient structures. Like dark skeletons they stood in stark contrast to the white sand. Just above her the mandala clouds of red, yellow, and blue swirled like a lazy hurricane. She stretched up a gloved hand to touch them but they rippled away, just out of reach.
Movement to her right caused her to turn and squint at a ghostly figure walking towards her along the shoreline. She dug her fingers into the warm sand to verify that something about this place was real before getting to her feet. As the silhouette approached, it came into focus and she realized that is was Zak. He looked exactly the same as he did the last time she saw him alive, boyish and jovial.
His smile was like another sun shining on her face. She knew she was grinning like an idiot but didn't care as his arms opened and welcomed her into his embrace.
"I am sorry I couldn't be there for you," he soothed into her ear.
It hit her. "This isn't…You're not Zak."
Pulling back he replied, "We thought this might make things easier for you."
The space between life and death. "Who are you, are you a god?"
"It's not important. But we have been watching you humans for thousands of years. You are an interesting species, such an interesting mix. You are capable of such beautiful dreams and such horrible nightmares. You feel so lost, so cut off, so alone. In all the time wehave existed, the only thing that we found that makes the emptiness bearable, is each other."
"What happens now?
"Now you go back and lead humanity to earth."
"Yes, you are standing on it."
"Like the tomb of Athena. But how do we get here?"
"When the time comes you will know the way. It's a broken road but it leads straight here. You'll see. Believe in yourself, trust your instincts. And Kara, open your heart. The one that lives here" he tapped her chest "will help you. Earth is just the destination; the important thing is the journey with him."
At once the sky filled with shooting stars that converged into a single bright all encompassing light. There were so many questions, so much uncertainty yet she had no choice but to close her eyes and let it overtake her.
When Kara opened her eyes she was in her viper again. Her hands were steering through the middle of a tremendous vortex of swirling clouds. She had no idea how she had gotten from her viper to Earth in the first place let alone how she had gotten back in it. She nervously licked the sweat accumulating above her lip as she navigated through an ever changing path in the center. Gradually she relaxed, started enjoying the dips and curves, and even chuckled during a twist requiring a tight barrel roll.
Every so often she glanced down at her gauges and noted that she was getting low on fuel. After some time, she had no idea how long, the color and shape of the clouds began to change. All at once she was surrounded by a grayish fog and then, without warning, the craft hit upon tremendous turbulence. Alarms blared, sensors lit up the cockpit, and the metal hull whined in protest from the immense pressure.
With the Zak avatar's words in her head, she grabbed the throttle and pulled back with all her strength. Grunting with the effort, she jammed her feet into the floorboards. For a fleeting moment she thought it was too late, the strain too much. She had danced to the edge one too many times. A resigned, bitter laugh escaped her just as her bird began to feel light again.
Once more, Adama's voice cut through the haze in Lee's head. "Can you see her?"
Lee's vision was still imprinted with the after affect of the explosion making it nearly impossible to see anything. He was almost afraid to look, lest he see nothing but the remnants of her ship but something was moving away from the fireball.
"Yes, Yes! I see her! Kara, do you read?"
The silence was deafning.
"Dad, her comms must be down. Her ship is...uh…intact… I don't… it looks good, uh like new…."
Adama interrupted, "Don't lose her again Lee."
"Not a chance." Not a chance!
Once Kara's ship leveled off she was able to convince the alarms to cease and desist but her DRADIS display remained garbled. Resorting to Mark one eye ball she spotted Lee's Mark VII barreling towards her.
For a moment she worried he too was running dangerously on bingo fuel but that thought was fleeting as she could think of no one else she more desperately wanted to see right then. So much she needed to tell him, so much lost time to make up for. She flicked the comms switch and received a painful jolt of static. Frak.
Lee maneuvered his viper alongside Kara's and tried the comms again. She shook her head and tapped her helmet in reply. He allowed himself to breathe again. "Gods Kara." He muttered to himself. Was she actually smiling at him after scaring the crap out of him like that?
He kept his viper on her wing on the way back to Galactica and waited the eternity it took for the lift to bring his bird back to the hangar deck. While popping his canopy open he frantically searched the bustling bay and was on the ladder before it was secured in place. Kara handed her helmet to the specialist as he raced to the opposite end where the deck gang had docked her.
Discordant emotions consumed him as her wide eyes meet his; anger, fear, relief and back to anger. He was about to propel himself up the steps when she landed in front of him, smiling, alive and breathing.
In response to his turmoil, her face flickered and he recognized the expression. It was the same one she had when, a lifetime ago, she tentatively asked if they were ok. Immediately, his anger dissolved and he was overcome with relief and the undeniable knowledge that losing her would be unimaginable and utterly unbearable. Giving in to the desire to confirm her existence, he wrapped his arms around her and lifted her up, bringing the length of her body against his.
He croaked "For a second, I thought you were dead."
In the fullness of the embrace, Kara felt Lee's cheek with her ear. Her eyes filled with tears as she remembered his words under her viper earlier that day. "Whatever it takes."
"So did I," she sighed.
He squeezed her tighter before setting her back on her feet. Her boots tapped the deck but she felt like she was floating.
"What happened out there?"
"I am not entirely…Lee?"
"It doesn't matter. You are alive and…"
Hearing the thickness of his voice, she realized that their unspoken feelings were hanging out in space waiting to be formed into words. Words she had always dreaded and yet desperately craved. Her world had turned upside down and she had not been able to process everything that had happened but there was one thing Kara Thrace was absolutely sure of. The fear was gone, and as her hands framed the sides of his face, she locked his eyes to hers. "Lee, I love you."
He blinked slowly, his forehead creasing as he struggled to fathom the enormity of what she said. Shaking his head, his eyes welling with tears, Lee Adama managed to speak clearly, "I love you Kara."
"Pass the word, Major Adama report to Admiral Adama's quarters. Captain Thrace report to Life Station immediately."
With tears streaking down their cheeks they stared into each other's eyes, continuing a silent dialogue for an infinite minute before spontaneously giving way to infectious smiles. He gently pulled her closer until the soft skin of their foreheads made contact. Duty called but he was unwilling to let go of her just yet. Mesmerized by her full lips he chuckled at their frakked up timing.
"Time to face the music," she sighed and they finally made their way, hand in hand, to the stairs.
"This conversation is not over." He said, reluctantly letting go of her hand as they went in opposite directions.