A/N: I am not a doctor and therefore any medical views I give in the story are completely from my head and not based on actual knowledge.

Summary: Lee proves how much he cares for Kara. Set sometime before Pegasus and Helo is on Galactica not Caprica.

Whatever the Cost

The mission had started off so easily. It was just a simple trip to a planet in the system the fleet was currently in. They were meant to be looking for some new food sources to replenish the shortages they always faced. However, as was usually the case, things had well and truly frakked up. He could never work out why he was always surprised when things went wrong, but he always was.

He could hear the flurry of activity behind him and tried to clear his mind and focus on the task at hand. Getting back to Galactica.

"She'll be ok… she'll be ok…" he muttered.

"Raptor 459, Galactica, come in."

"Galactica, Apollo, can you put me through to Galactica Actual."

After a few seconds. "Apollo, Galactica Actual. You're back earlier than we expected, Captain."

"We ran into a couple of problems, Sir. Permission to land?"

"Cylons?"

"Negative. Requesting a medical team be present in the hangar." He glanced behind him, paling slightly. "We've a medical emergency."

"How many?" concern in his voice.

"Just one, Sir… Starbuck."

BSG

Lee paced back and forth outside sickbay. It had been a long time since they'd landed on the hangar deck, and even longer since Kara had fallen ill. He looked towards the doors into Sickbay, wondering when they'd tell him how she was. He tried to convince himself he was just concerned because she was one of his pilots – but he knew she was more to him than that. He wasn't quite up to admitting that to anyone yet though, especially not Kara. He could barely admit it to himself that often.

"Sit down Lee."

He flashed a look of annoyance at his father who was sitting patiently a few feet away from him. "How can you be so calm?"

"Major Cottle's very good at his job and he'll look after her. You pacing back and forwards isn't going to change anything."

"It'll make me feel better."

"Really? And how's that working for you? You don't look like you feel any better."

Lee scowled. "Fine, you win." He sat down next to his father.

"Tell me what happened, son."

"I'm not sure… when we landed on the planet, we split into two teams. Kara was heading the other team. It'd only been a couple of hours when one of the Marines from her team radioed through and said that she'd been taken ill. By the time we got to where they were her condition had got a hell of a lot worse. We carried her back to the Raptor and I flew us back as quickly as I could. A couple of the Marines were looking after her – there wasn't anything I could do for her. What if I didn't get her back here quick enough?"

"Let's wait and see what the Doc says, shall we?" They sat in silence for a long time.

The doors to sickbay finally opened and Doc Cottle came out. He looked about as happy as he usually did. Both of the Adama's rose to their feet to meet him. "Commander, Captain."

"How is she, Doc?" The elder man asked.

"She's definitely been better. She certainly knows how to keep me on my toes, that's for sure."

"What's wrong with her?" Lee asked.

"I was hoping you may be able to help me work that out. I'm not sure what you and those gods damn Marines did to her… but I can't work out what the hell's going on."

Lee blanched. "Major…" The Commander jumped in, pulling rank. "What do you mean you don't know what's going on?"

"Just how that sounds. It appears to be some sort of poison but as yet I'm completely unable to work out what it is and how to get rid of it."

"I'll get Colonel Tigh to speak to the Marines and try to see if we can shed some light on it."

"Can I see her, Doc?" Lee said.

"Yes, that's fine…"

BSG

Lee stepped past the curtain shielding her bed from public view. His chest felt tight and fists were clenched at his side. He looked at her, lying on the bed. It didn't look like the Starbuck… Kara… he knew… and loved. His heart beat faster, just admitting it to himself. His left hand unclenched and re-clenched. He edged forwards towards her bed, his hand reaching forward and pushing a stray bit of her hair hanging onto her face behind her ear. His other hand reached for her hand that was lying on the bed. It was cold and clammy. Another reminder this wasn't his Kara. He flinched and his grasp on her hand tightened. He pulled a chair that was nearby over to the bedside and lowered himself into it – never releasing his hold on her hand.

She really didn't look very good at all. She was really pale and yet at the same time looked flushed. He began to wonder if she'd be ok. Would they be able to work out what was wrong with her? Would Cottle be able to get a cure? What would he do if he lost her? How he wished he'd told her how he felt. Did she have similar feelings for him? Maybe it was better this way – at least this way he could fool himself and believe she did. He immediately regretted even giving that thought any time. How could he even think this was the way he wanted things to be?

He sat for a long time, just holding her hand. Thinking. She always told him he was an over-thinker… she was right. Everything was whirling around his head and he couldn't seem to get anything clear at all. Cottle's words began to creep in to the back of his head and the guilt began to filter through. While the rational part of his brain told him he was at no fault for what had happened to Kara, and there was nothing he could've done to prevent it. A large part of his head was being distinctly irrational and telling him this was all his fault. He was the one to blame… the only way to rid himself of the blame was to make Kara better. With that he strode out of sickbay, one purpose in mind.

BSG

In his office he looked for the report he knew would be there. Sure enough it was on his desk. He sat down and read it through and then read it again. A gem of an idea forming in his head. He suddenly realised what needed to be done… and he was just the man to do it. And do it he would… whatever the cost.

BSG

CIC

"Commander, we have an unauthorised launch of a Raptor from the starboard hangar deck." Dee informed him.

"Who?"

"I'm not sure, Sir, they're not responding to my hails."

The elder Adama snatched up the wireless handset. "Raptor, Galactica Actual, what're you doing?"

There was no response from the Raptor for several seconds. "Galactica Actual, Apollo."

"Give me a secure line, Petty Officer."

"Aye Sir."

"Apollo… Lee. What're you doing, son?"

"What needs to be done, Sir."

"Explain yourself, Captain."

"He's firing up the FTL drive, Sir." Gaeta suddenly said.

"Lee… don't do this. Come back on board, we can discuss whatever the issue is."

"Sorry dad. I can't do that… I've got to do this." The line was cut off.

"He's jumped away, sir."

"Damn it."

BSG

CIC

15 hours later:

"Dradis contact… Colonial transponder… its Apollo's Raptor, Sir." Dee informed Colonel Tigh who was currently in charge of CIC.

"Contact him." He replied.

"He's not responding."

"He's approaching the starboard hangar deck… he's all over the place." Gaeta informed them.

"Let the Chief and his crew know he's on his way in. Also get some Marines down there – and get Cottle to get a team down there. Something's not right about this." Tigh could feel the hairs on the back of his neck beginning to prickle. "Dee, can you go and let the Commander know what's happening."

Minutes passed. "The Raptor's down…"

"Sitrep." Adama strode into CIC.

"Apollo's Raptor has landed…" Gaeta informed him.

"In a manner of speaking…" Tigh said.

"Meaning…"

"It wasn't to his usual standards… he was coming in very hot – all over the place in fact. I've got a team of Marines down there and Cottle with a team there as well."

"I'm going down there…"

"Be careful, Bill… we don't know where he's been and there may be Cylon's in there."

By the time he arrived on the hangar deck, the Raptor was being towed, ready for unloading. "Any movement yet, Chief?" he asked as he walked up to Tyrol.

"No, the hatch should be opening any second." They both stopped and looked at the Raptor expectantly. Nothing happened. The tension in the hangar deck has risen gradually since the Commander has arrived – and it was just getting worse as the minutes went past.

"Get in that Raptor now…" Bill knew there was something wrong. His gut was telling him his son was in trouble.

The Marines moved forward, their weapons drawn. They pressed the hatch release and the door gradually opened. There was still no movement from inside. Two of the Marines headed into the Raptor. One of the Marines came back out, "We need you in here now, Doc."

Bill went over to the Raptor as soon as he heard that. He went up the ramp and entered the cabin. He was taken back by the sight that was waiting for him when he was in the cockpit area. Cottle appeared behind him and pushed past to get to the stricken pilot. One Captain Lee Adama.

"Get a gurney in here now." Cottle shouted.

They managed to get Lee onto the gurney. As they moved it passed Adama to lift him out of the raptor, Lee grabbed his hand. "Stop a minute," he said and then knelt down by his son. His other hand cupped Lee's face. "Son…"

Lee's eyes fluttered open slightly and he tried to focus on his father. "Dad…" he whispered.

"I'm here, son. What happened to you?"

"Planet… Kara… help… check… leg." Each word was a struggle to get out and once he'd spoken them he drifted away into unconsciousness.

"He's not breathing, Doc." One of the medics informed them all.

"Sickbay… NOW!" Cottle ordered.

The gurney was swiftly passed out of the Raptor to the Marines waiting outside. The medical team quickly left the Raptor and went back to the gurney. They all left the hangar deck as quickly as was physically possible. Nobody got in their way… they all moved swiftly out of the way – stunned by seeing how ill their CAG looked.

Adama stood and watched, knowing for a short while anyway there was very little he could do for his son. He was also taken aback by how his son had looked… and then he suddenly realised his son had managed to land the Raptor despite his condition. He really was an amazing pilot… and an amazing son as well. Which was something he really ought to tell him more often… especially after the events that everyone had been subjected to in the last few months. He'd already lost one son without telling him how he felt about him. He just hoped he would get a chance to tell his eldest, and only remaining, son what he meant to him. Had he left it too late?

He walked across the hangar deck, trying not to the notice the sympathetic looks from the crew. When he got to sickbay, he waited for the doctor to appear… to tell him something. He noticed the area Kara was in was near – so he went in to check on her. He took her hand in his. She really didn't look any better… but she didn't look any worse either which was a little reassuring. And he had to reflect she looked a hell of a lot better than Lee did.

He remembered the words Lee had said. If only he had been able to say more – because what he said hadn't meant much. Planet. Kara. Help. Check. Leg. As he was thinking Cottle appeared beside the bed. "How is he, Major?"

"He's not good… we've managed to get his heart started again… we've had to several times."

"Was there something wrong with Kara's leg when she came in?"

"No, should there have been? It was her hand that was injured by gods knows what."

"It was something Lee said on the way out of the Raptor… he said five words. Planet, Kara, help, check and leg."

"Then I guess I should go and check his legs then… I'll keep you informed. But so you know, he seems to have the same thing as whatever the Lieutenant here has – although his symptoms seem to be a lot more severe."

"Thanks Doc. I'll be here for a little while longer."

BSG

When the doctor re-appeared a short while later, he had a hopeful expression on his face. "Well, Commander, it seems your son is quite the hero."

"What?"

"We checked his legs. He had an injury that was similar to Thrace's on his left leg… there was a slight difference though. Whatever it was that caused the injury was still attached to the Captain's leg. We've been able to remove it from his leg and it's been taken to be tested to try and identify the toxin. Once we can identify it, we may be able to work out some sort of antidote."

"Do you know how long it'll be before we have any idea?"

"I'm afraid not. We're still trying to stabilise your son. He was obviously exposed to the toxin for much longer, so he's very weak at the moment. He must've been in a hell of a lot of pain as well. The 'creature' for want of a better word was deeply embedded into his leg. It had one hell of a grip. Once we've stabilised him and he's a little stronger I am going to have to do some extensive surgery. There's a lot of dead flesh and damage to his leg."

"Will he still be able to fly?"

"It's too early to tell at the moment. I'll try my best to ensure that he can still do so."

"He landed that Raptor almost perfectly you know, even with all of the pain. He came in a little hot, but there wasn't a scratch on the Raptor. Pretty damn impressive."

"I'd better be going. I'll let you know when I have any news, Commander."

BSG

It was hours later and Adama was finally able to see his son. Unfortunately he didn't look any better than last time he'd seen him. He actually looked worse… and Bill hadn't thought that could be possible. His skin had a greyish tinge to it that was definitely not healthy looking. Lee was hooked up to so many machines, giving him oxygen and just about anything else he needed to keep him alive.

Bill was beginning to think he wasn't going to get the chance to tell his son how he much he meant to him. How proud he was of him.

The doctor entered the area, "We have good news, Commander. We appear to have found an antidote for the toxin. The lab are synthesising enough for the Captain and Lieutenant now. We should be able to give them the medicine within the hour."

"That's great news. How long do you think it'll be before we see any response?"

"It's hard to say. You should get some rest in the meantime. Both Lee and Kara are going to need you when they come around. Lee even more so than Kara. I still have his leg to sort out once we have the toxin cleared. But they both are going to be off flight duty for quite a while yet. The poison in that creature is just about the worst we've ever seen. They're going to be weak for several weeks… possibly months. So get some rest… or do I need to make that an order, Commander?" he smiled as he said the last sentence.

"Fine. I give in… you win. Can you call me if there's any change with either of them?"

"You'll be the first to know, I promise."

Adama left sickbay and went back to his quarters. He didn't think he'd get any sleep – but he knew better than to argue with Cottle… so he'd at least try. And he knew the Doc was right, both his son and his daughter were going to need him over the next few weeks.

BSG

Circumstances began to change shortly after the first shift change of the day. And events soon were moving so rapidly, almost beyond the control of anyone. Both of the patients had been given the antidote to the toxin and the medical team were just watching and waiting for any sign that their conditions would improve.

Fortunately because of the shift change that had just occurred, the team were lucky as there was still some of the staff around from the previous shift… which was a good thing because they needed everybody they could get.

The first thing that happened was Kara regained consciousness, screaming. She began to thrash around in her bed, Cottle and his team rushed to her bedside. Two of the nurses restrained her while Cottle examined her. "Kara, can you hear me?" There was no reaction from her; she continued to struggle against the medics holding her down. "Lieutenant, speak to me."

"Help me… Lee…"

"The Captain is otherwise engaged at the moment, so I guess you're stuck with me. How can I help you, Kara?"

"Pain. It's hurts so much."

"Where?"

"Everywhere."

"I'll give you some meds for that in a minute. First though I need to examine you."

"Doctor, we have problems with the other patient. His levels are dropping dangerously low. We could do with some assistance."

"Fine, we'll swap – you check over Kara, and once you've determined there aren't issues we need to deal with, give her a dose of Morpha." Cottle quickly walked from her bed to the bed just a few feet away. "Call the Commander – you'd better tell him what's going on."

"What is going on?"

"The antidote is having an affect – but at the moment I am unsure exactly whether it's good or bad." He looked towards the pilot before him, "somehow, I think it may not be so good for the Captain here…" he muttered. He looked at the machines that were connected to Lee. The blood pressure and heart level were through the roof. His oxygen levels were falling. Cottle knew if they managed to salvage the Captain, the Commander's son, from this situation there was a real likelihood he would never be a viper pilot again. But that would be some time from now and they needed to stabilise him… again… first.

Cottle and his team worked solidly for two hours on Lee. Fighting to bring him back from the brink of death again and again. At the same time, another team was checking Kara's condition. Once she'd received the Morpha, her condition had stabilised and she was no longer in any pain.

BSG

Cottle eventually stepped out from Lee's cubicle and was greeted by his very worried father and commanding officer. Adama was not initially very comforted by the appearance of the doctor. He was covered in blood… presumably his son's… and there was a lot of it. Much more than could possibly be healthy. "I take it this isn't good news?"

"Well, it's a kind of good news, bad news situation. Lieutenant Thrace had responded as we hoped to the antidote. Apart from some residual pain, she is relatively stable. We've sedated her to give her body some time to recover from everything it's been through. Also, I didn't think she should hear what was going on elsewhere in sickbay. She asked for your son when she regained consciousness. I think if she knew what his condition was; it wouldn't help her recovery."

"And what is his condition?"

"That's the bad news I'm afraid, Sir. The antidote hasn't worked in the same way with your son. At this stage, I am unsure whether it's because of his prolonged exposure to the 'creature' or if there's some other reason. The antidote appears to be attacking all of his major organs. I've had to perform surgery on him to try to repair some of the damage. We've managed to stabilise him for the time being. His system's shutting down, we're trying our best to keep him alive… and I think he's putting up as much of a fight against this as we are… but he's extremely weak and I'm afraid it's touch and go for the time being."

Bill's heart grew heavy at Cottle's words. While he was pleased his surrogate daughter was going to be ok, he was devastated the same couldn't be said for his son. He also knew in his heart that when Kara found out about Lee, it would most likely kill her. He was aware of the feelings Lee and Kara had for each other… hell, most of the ship knew… everyone that is apart from the two of them. They had proved on many occasions how strongly they felt about each other, they may never have actually put it in words – most definitely not to each other, possibly not even to themselves – but their actions spoke a thousand words. His son wouldn't be in the condition he was in now if it hadn't been for the way he felt for Kara… and she would blame herself for it… very much in the same way as his son had done earlier. "What do you suggest we do now?"

"For now, we're making him comfortable. The lab is running more tests on the creature and they're trying to see if there's anything else that can be done. I'm afraid it's a waiting game. Do you want me to inform Thrace of the situation when she's back with us?"

"No, I'll do that. Please can you let me know when she's awake?"

"I will. I'm afraid it's probably best that you don't see your son at the moment…"

"Why not?"

"Because of his fragile condition and the rapidity of the changes that keep getting thrown at us, I haven't bothered to close him up after the last surgery. It's much better for all when his condition takes a turn for the worse, as it's most likely to do, that we don't have to waste time by opening him back up. Also this way, it should hopefully reduce the scarring. Until he's in a more stable condition and at a time when I think we won't have to operate any further, it's probably best you don't see him."

"But doctor…"

"Believe me, Commander, if Lee doesn't pull through this, this is not the way you'd want to remember your son."

"Ok, doctor. I believe you – I don't like it – but I respect what you're saying… but if it looks like he's going to… not make it, I'd like to see him one last time. There is much I want to say to him while I have the chance. I won't lose another son and miss out on the opportunity to say goodbye to him."

"I will make sure you get that chance, Commander, I promise. And my team and I will do everything we can to try to ensure that you won't have to go through that. As soon as I've any further news, I'll let you know."

BSG

Adama walked wearily out of sickbay and back to CIC. Once there he was greeted by his senior staff and the president of the twelve colonies. "How are things, Bill?" Saul Tigh asked.

"Madame President, I wasn't expecting a visit from you today."

"Commander Adama, I heard about the conditions of Captain Apollo and Lieutenant Thrace and came to see how they were and to offer you my support." She put a hand on his arm and gave it a gentle squeeze.

Lieutenant 'Helo' Agathon appeared nearby, "How are Kara and Lee, Sir?"

"Kara's going to be fine…" He stopped there and what he didn't say spoke volumes to the people surrounding him.

"And Lee…?" Tigh asked the question no one wanted to ask.

"He's got worse. It's not clear whether he'll get better."

"Don't you want to spend some time with him, Bill?" Tigh was concerned; he knew what the loss of Lee would do to the old man in front of him. "We can manage here. You should be with your son."

The pain could be seen on his face. "Cottle says it's probably best I don't see him in his current condition." He took off his glasses and pinched his brow, squeezing his eyes shut. He had the beginnings of a headache. "He says that I won't want to remember Lee this way." Gasps could be heard throughout CIC and the atmosphere became even more subdued. "So, I need to work… I need to think about something else until Kara wakes up and I have to tell her about Lee."

"We're currently trying to locate another planet within this system which may help replenish our resources. Two Raptors are currently out scouting out an area which we've yet to investigate." Tigh respected his friend's request and gave him a situation update. "They're due back in wireless range in about half an hour. So we should have some news by then."

"That's good. Well keep me informed, Colonel. Laura, would you like to come to my office with me. There are some things I think we need to discuss."

"Certainly, Commander."

BSG

As she slowly opened her eyes, she realised where she was and groaned. She could feel that someone was holding her hand. "Lee…" she whispered.

"I'm afraid not, Kara… will an old man be a good substitute?"

She smiled and turned her face towards him. "What happened?"

"You were injured on the planet. We've been struggling to make you better – but you should make a full recovery in no time. You just need a couple of weeks to build up your strength again."

"So what happened to me? Was anyone else injured?"

"Some sort of creature bit and infected you with a pretty potent toxin…" his voice died away.

"There's something you're not saying… I know you too well, Sir." He didn't say anything. He took her hand in both of his and looked at them – trying to take strength from them. "Please tell me… it can't be that bad…" Again more silence. She looked at his face and she knew. "It's Lee isn't it? Tell me… Dad… please…" A tear trickled down her cheek, the worry was etched on her face.

"When you first came back, the Doc was unable to work out what was exactly wrong with you. He said a few things which he shouldn't have done. I should have talked to Lee afterwards but I left him on his own. It was a mistake. He sat with you for quite a while and the next thing I knew he was leaving the ship on a Raptor. Nobody knew where he'd gone. He returned about 15 hours later. We had to go into the Raptor once he'd landed because he didn't come out." Again he couldn't say any more… he wasn't sure how to say it without breaking her heart.

She gave his hands a squeeze, "Go on."

He felt guilty that she was trying to give him comfort at this moment. "He was barely conscious. The medical staff all worked on him to try and stabilise his condition. He managed to say a couple of words to me as they took him out of the Raptor and from that we worked out that he'd also been bitten by another one of the creatures that'd bitten you. One of the reasons Cottle couldn't work out what the toxin was, was because one of the Marines had removed the creature from you. Lee came back having been bitten on the leg, with one of the creatures still attached. Because he was exposed to the toxin for longer, he was really ill. I still have no comprehension of how he managed to land that Raptor – but he did, it was a perfect landing."

"But I'm better now, so the Doc must've worked out how to treat us."

"They did develop an antidote and you were both given it."

"Then why is he not here? Where is he?"

"He's at the other end of sickbay. The antidote hasn't worked on him the same way it did for you. They're still trying to work out why not. It could just be because he was exposed to the toxin longer so it's taking longer to react to clear it up. But he's really sick."

"How bad?" She said it in such a quiet voice, she could barely be heard.

"We may lose him, Kara. All of his major organs are being attacked by the toxin for some reason. Cottle has had to operate on him to try and clear up the damage even though he's too weak for the surgery."

"I want to see him."

"I don't think Cottle will let you see him. He says that if he dies, we won't want to remember Lee that way." His eyes filled with tears. "I think we need to prepare ourselves for the worst, Kara." Her body was shaking uncontrollably as tears poured down her face. "I wish things were different, but I think we're going to lose Lee."

"This is my fault."

"NO! Do not blame yourself… ever. Lee would never do that, so you shouldn't either."

"But the only reason he's in this mess is because of me. If I hadn't got injured on the planet, he never would've gone back and he wouldn't be dying now."

They sat there for quite a while, offering and taking support from each other. Cottle came in to check on her. "Well Lieutenant, you're going to be fine. You can be out of here in a couple of days… and once you have your strength back up, you should be back on the roster in two or three weeks."

"Doc, I need to see him. Please let me see him."

Sympathy flashed over his face. "Lieutenant… Kara… he's in no condition for you to see him."

"But he needs us… he needs me. If I'm there he'll get better, I know it." She sat up and started to get out of the bed.

Cottle moved forward and tried to push her back. "Kara, you need to recuperate."

She shoved him out of the way and rushed out into the middle of sickbay. She spotted an area that was curtained off at the far end of sickbay. She staggered towards it and edged through the curtain. She looked at the man before her and barely recognised him. He was a mess. His face was strained and yet as she looked at him, also bizarrely looked at some kind of peace. She stepped forward and then stopped. With that step she'd looked at him a little closer… had looked at the rest of him. She saw the gaping wound that was still open on his stomach and chest. Her gaze flickered back to his face and the tears started to fall down her face again. She finally reached his bedside and raised a shaky hand to touch his face. She leaned forward and kissed him briefly on the lips. She ran her fingers through his hair and caressed him tenderly. She trailed kisses down his face and moved her mouth towards his ear and softly whispered. "Lee, it's me. Thank you so much for what you did. I'm so grateful for what you've done for me. I wish I could do something for you in return." She rested her face against his and closed her eyes. "Lee, you've got to get better, for me. Your father needs you. I need you. I love you Lee. I need you here with me. I can't do this without you. Please come back to me." Her despair became too much and she slid to the floor. She put her head in her hands and began to rock backwards and forwards.

A pair of arms wrapped themselves around her and pulled her towards them. For a second she thought that it was Lee, but when she looked up, it was into the face of her friend, Helo. He scooped her up into his arms and walked her back towards her bed. Once she was on the bed, she dissolved into tears, curling up into a foetal position.

She stayed that way for a long time. People came and went. All of them sitting by her bedside; there for her when she needed them. But she largely ignored them. She wasn't interested. She didn't need them. She needed and wanted only one thing… one person… and he was beyond her reach.

She laid there almost catatonic. Unable to function. Unable to respond to anything and anyone. Waiting for him. Pleading with the Gods, that they'd hear her and make him better… bring him back to her.

She wasn't the only one who was praying to the Gods. All of the crew of Galactica were hoping and anxiously waiting for there to be some change in Apollo's condition. Their race had already lost so many people, but no one was sure if the fleet could survive the loss of their two bravest warriors. They wanted a miracle and prayed for it, because they knew that the cost of losing these two was too great, it would spell the end and that was something no one was willing to face.

TBC