Rating: No higher than your average episode.
Spoilers:Specifically for LDYB and Unfinished Business and the whole New Caprica arc.
Summary: Anders died before Kara gets back to rescue the Resistance. This affects everything, and mostly for the better. At least for Kara and Lee's lives.
For shinyfab, for the klficathon on LiveJournal. I was asked to write something either "dark and adventurous" or with a "relationship with a bit of fluff". A bit vague, but I hope I did the latter some justice. I couldn't bring myself to make season four speculation because there's serious baggage with that, so this is an AU to Lay Down Your Burdens. Please excuse any minor canonical discrepancies – my season two boxset has gone walk-about and I couldn't get my hands on a copy of Part Two on the internet. I'm relying on Battlestar Wiki at the moment for my season two needs.
Lee spotted her as soon as she stepped off the raptor, the cocky grin proving to everyone that the great Starbuck pulled it off again. But immediately he could see that the grin didn't quite shine in her eyes. He didn't know what Samuel Anders looked like but it was obvious that he wasn't here.
Well, that was an interesting development, Lee blinked.
Kara was accepting the back-slaps, hugs and hand-shakes like the home-coming hero that she was, but her head was darting this way and that; her eyes were scanning the crowd for a face.
Lee, pitifully hoping it was him, stepped into a clearer area of the hanger. Kara found him soon enough, and she was pushing people out of the way to get to him. The pride and happiness that surged in Lee's chest at that simple act was hard to dampen down. She threw her arms around him as soon as she was close enough.
"I didn't find him, Lee," was muffled in his uniform slightly, but he heard it.
"I'm sorry," he pulled her to him more tightly.
Kara didn't have enough space to nod properly, but tried anyway. "I know." She breathed Lee's clean scent in deeply.
"You still did good Kara. How many did you bring back?"
"I'm not sure, maybe two dozen."
"Well done, Kara," Lee squeezed her, and just let himself enjoy Kara in his arms. When she finally pulled away from him, it was only to ask, "Can we get drunk now?"
There would be an official celebration, welcoming the remnants of the resistance to the fleet, but until then, it was time to patch people up and celebrate privately, immediately, while the adrenaline was still coursing through the system.
The sound of rising voices from a few metres away brought them back to the room, and Kara watched as two identical preachers were cuffed and led out with an armed contingent of marines.
Discovering another Cylon had been in the fleet just made Kara want to hit the ambrosia more.
Lee caught the Admiral's eyes and nodded. "Let's get to it, Starbuck," he grinned.
When he awoke next to a softly snoring Kara the next morning the floor of the Admiral's quarters, he was at as much of a loss as to how they got there as Kara was when she woke. But when they practically crawled out, it was with a mocking grin from the Admiral, a disgusted look from Tigh, and a goodbye from Dee.
"I can't believe people are settling on that rock," Kara scoffed, sipping at her ambrosia on the Admiral's sofa. "I'm losing pilots left, right and centre."
"Will we have enough to keep up a CAP?" Bill asked from behind his noodles. "We can't let our guard down up here."
Kara sighed. "I don't know. Every day someone else tells me they're shaking up in a tent on New Caprica. I've got twenty three pilots on Galactica, and there's seventeen on Pegasus last I heard. If we lose many more, we're going to be pushing it."
Bill levelled Kara a speculative look. Was it worth revealing this information, and pushing her? She could take the encouragement or she could run in the opposite direction, and the last thing Bill wanted was for his son and Kara to be any further apart and miserable. "Lieutenant Gaeta is leaving for the surface," he started.
"Yeah, I heard. And with Dee, no less," Kara added, a sparkle in her eyes. She did love gossip after all, and gossip that freed Lee up for her was gossip worth enquiring about.
Bill smiled. "It's a shame to see a good comms officer go, but I don't want to stop her." He tried to make it sound like permission, but he wasn't sure it go across. Kara made no reaction, so he decided to move on. "Colonel Tigh is putting up a token resistance, but Ellen is going to win in the end."
Bill nodded. "Or he will be, when I find a replacement XO. He won't leave without knowing I've got someone." And the whole point of this meeting swung around.
Kara missed the point completely. "Well, I would have suggested Lee, but obviously that's not an option. Helo has a head for organisation, and obviously he's not leaving."
"Lieutenant Agathon doesn't quite have the experience yet. I had someone in mind, actually?"
"Who?" Kara asked, wondering why the hell the Admiral didn't mention that before she tried to think of someone staying who would suit the job.
"You, Kara," Bill said. "You're one of the most experienced officers on this ship, you know how we work, you have authority with the rest of the crew and I can trust you."
Kara swallowed a nervous giggle. "Sir, you know how I react to authority, I'd be terrible!"
"The only people you'd have left to answer to are me and Lee, Kara, and you certainly obey most of my orders," Bill cajoled. "You'd be very good at this, you just don't give yourself enough credit."
"But-" Kara's voice cracked and her face flushed in embarrassment. "Sir, you know how much I love flying."
"I'm not going to ban you from a viper, Kara," Bill grinned, knowing that it would be Kara's main sticking point. "It's not like you're going to be swamped with work now that the fleet is stationary, and Kat is going to need some guidance to be a good CAG."
The immediate revulsion she felt at Kat's mention was hard to dampen down, but it stemmed from anger and embarrassment at being outdone where Scar was concerned. Kat had the shot, she didn't, and it didn't make Kat the better pilot. Kat would make a good CAG if Kara could give her guidance; Kat trusted her instincts and that's what counted.
"So, I can still fly, sometimes?" Kara asked quietly.
Bill nodded. "I promise."
"Then I'll do it," Kara said.
Bill pulled a box from the table that Kara hadn't noticed in the hour or so she'd been sitting there, and opened it to show fresh pips. "In that case, congratulations are in order, Major."
"I saw you out flying the other day," Lee said from his spot on the sandy ground, his speech slightly slurred from the amount of ambrosia they'd consumed already since the breaking ground ceremony began.
Kara scrunched up her nose. "How'd you know it was me?"
He laughed. "No one flies like you do, Kara, and I've watched you for years. I could point you out easily by now." Silence followed the statement, but Kara shifted closer to Lee and let her head fall to his shoulder. "It's good that you can still fly," Lee continued, wistfully.
"You should come flying with me some time, big shot Commander. I'm sure Hoshi can look after the Beast for a few hours?"
Lee shrugged, and Kara made a groan of protest as her head was jostled. "Hoshi decided to move down, he'll not be coming back up with us."
"Oh," was all Kara could make herself say. She looked around awkwardly for a minute, squinting as things started to shimmer and swim a little. "Come see where the chief wants to build his house," she said, suddenly jumping up and immediately regretting it.
"What?" Lee was confused as to why Kara was suddenly pulling on his hand. "House?"
"Yeah, the chief wants to build a house outside the settlement, come take a look," Kara kept pulling, and eventually Lee followed her.
Lee slowly came to, and his eyes protested the light from the rising sun. He was cold, and he tried to work out where his blanket was – until he realised he didn't have one, and then it all came back to him.
"Kara Thrace loves Lee Adama!"
She'd said that. She'd actually said that. Lee blinked, waiting for the other shoe to fall.
He was alone. He was frakking alone. He brought his hand to rub at his face and sat up. The dawn was quiet, not very many people were going to be up and about at the moment.
Except, evidently Kara.
Lee pulled his pants on, and stood. And looking around, he realised that Kara was actually sat a few feet away and watching him, amused. As he walked towards her, the smile faded a little, but she still let him approach. It felt to Lee like approaching a skittish kitten.
"Morning," he said softly, sitting down next to her and putting his arm around her shoulders. She only had her tanks and knickers on, and she was shivering slightly. She moved in, closer to him.
"What do we do now, Lee?" She asked, quiet. "Where do we go from here?"
"I'm in need of an XO; you could-" he took a steadying breath. "You could transfer to Pegasus and we could see where this goes."
"I'm a frak-up, Lee," she said, kinder than the last time she'd said it, "Keep that in mind."
Lee scoffed, "Yeah, because all my relationships have been resounding successes?"
"I'm just saying," Kara sounded small, staring off into the distance. Lee had no idea what she was thinking.
"Kara, look at me," Lee commanded. To his great surprise, Kara obeyed. "I know you, Kara and I know what I'm letting myself in for. Just trust me," he stood, and held his hand out for Kara to take. It was now or never, he told himself. It was all or nothing from here on out. There was nothing to stop them, no reason to hold back.
It was still a bit of a shock when he felt Kara's hand in his.
He pulled her up to him and kissed her with as much passion as he had the night before; he desperately tried to show her that nothing had changed, and as she kissed him back he was happy to find that she understood.
They dressed fairly quickly, and strolled back into the settlement. There were people passed out on the streets, some covered with blankets, some trying to appropriate the tents as blankets.
They stopped outside the Tighs' tent, only identifiable because of the former colonel of the fleet waking up outside of it. He made no comment on their clasped hands, or the obvious grins on their faces, but he did nod with authority before disappearing off behind his tent. The sounds of groaning and vomiting came soon after.
The Admiral met them on the street outside the raptor, pulling them both into a hug.
"Time to go home, kids," he said, looking far more relaxed than either Kara or Lee had ever seen him.
Kara cleared her throat. "About that, sir…"
Lee buttoned up his uniform as he made his way to CIC. He was going to kill Kara. She'd flung his tunic so far across the room the night before that it'd taken him fifteen minutes to find it this morning, and then it had ended up so creased behind the sofa that he'd had to press it twice.
Unfortunately, there were some people milling about Pegasus CIC waiting for him, and Kara was engaged by the DRADIS and smirking. It'd have to wait then, he decided.
He signed off on the various reports and orders he was presented with, and was just about to approve another purified water tank for the surface when Kara made her presence known.
"Sir, we have DRADIS contacts," her voice was unashamedly shocked. "Frak," she swore under her breath. Her eyes caught Lee's. "We've got Cylons coming down on top of us."
He got to the comms station just as the Admiral came through on the system. "Lee, the fleet is jumping."
"Dad we can't-"
"We don't have a choice. Commence Alpha jump."
"Frak," Lee slammed the phone down. "Major, spool up the FTL, we're getting out of here."
It was a testament to Kara's trust in him that she immediately snapped to it, though he could see that she didn't agree with leaving people down there. They'd be back, he knew, they'd come back for their people on the surface, and with Kara around to give them a kick-ass plan, he knew it wouldn't be long.