AN: I think it's time to finally let this one out to be seen. Thanks go to Sonni for the beta – the head of the department of redundancy department thanks you for improving her efficiency. Love ya babe!
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'Kara Thrace is aboard the Rising Star.'
His father's words still echoed in his ears. Lee hadn't seen Kara for years, and their last meeting was burned into his brain for all the things that had been said, and not said. Days afterward, Kara had resigned from the military and none of the Adamas had heard a word from her since.
He'd regretted that day so many times since then, but had long reconciled himself to the fact there would be no second chances. Still, the thought of her being out there, somewhere, had sustained him until the day the Colonies fell. Billions had died that day, including many friends and colleagues, but Lee had had thoughts only for two: his mother, and Kara. Because now he could never ever make things right.
Today, he'd found out he was wrong, and he'd never been more glad. He felt like he was getting that second chance at last—never mind that she probably wouldn't even give him time to say her name before she slammed the proverbial door in his face.
~ * ~
Two hours ago:
Lee poked his head into the open hatch of the commander's quarters. Although he no longer felt at odds with his father, all he really wanted to be doing right now was lying in his bunk and trying not to think about the 13 pilots they had lost—not to mention the painful memories the funeral had evoked of his younger brother Zak.
"Lee, come in and sit down, please." Adama poured two glasses of ambrosia, handed one over and sat down heavily in the chair opposite his son. He drank the contents of his glass in three long swallows before speaking. "I'll get straight to the point. Kara Thrace is aboard the Rising Star."
Lee felt his mouth fall open. Whatever he'd been expecting to hear, this wasn't it. "Kara's alive?"
Bill nodded. "She's been working as a shuttle pilot. Her name turned up when I was searching the fleet registry for a flight instructor."
Lee thought about Zak and the last conversation he'd had with Kara and suddenly the ambrosia he was drinking wanted out of his stomach.
His father didn't seem to notice his anguish. "We need more pilots, and you know as well as I do that she's the best. Even more, we need to train new pilots. I want you to take a raptor over there and bring her back with you."
Lee found his voice at last. "Just like that? I don't think it will be that easy, Dad."
Bill fixed his gaze on his son and Lee felt ten years old again. "Persuade her. The two of you used to be friends."
Lee laughed, bitterly. They'd never been friends. "Not anymore. In fact, I'm probably the last person she'll want to see. You should really send someone else."
His father regarded him carefully for a moment. Don't ask, Lee begged silently. Please. "You're going to have to work together, so whatever issues you have between you, solve them. That's an order, Captain."
~ * ~
The hatch opened, and there she was. Her hair was a little longer, but otherwise she'd changed little since their last meeting.
"Kara," he managed to say, mouth suddenly dry. She stared at him without saying a word and the air was so thick with history that for a moment he couldn't breathe, and wondered if she felt the same. He braced himself for an argument, a punch, or a face full of closed hatch, but none of these things happened. Instead, the silence stretched until finally she took a step to the side and motioned for him to enter.
Kara waved him to the couch, then poured herself a drink and settled in the chair opposite. She didn't offer him a drink, but stared at him fixedly over the rim of her own glass as she sipped.
He cleared his throat. "Nice place you have here." He glanced about him. The Rising Star was a luxury liner, and while her quarters weren't nearly as opulent as those of the passengers, they weren't bad at all. There was a coffee table and a small couch, and a door to his left he assumed led to the sleeping area.
"Thank you," she replied. Her tone was cool, and she clearly didn't intend to make this easy for him. He'd expected her to verbally eviscerate him and then shove him unceremoniously back through the door he came in; the fact that she hadn't yet done so had him strangely unnerved. He wanted to touch her so badly it felt like an ache, and he would have given his right arm to know what she was thinking.
"So, how long has it been?" he asked, trying to work up to something more substantial.
"Six years." Still not offering him any encouragement to continue.
He steeled himself and pressed on. "Feels like longer," he said, then bit his tongue. He knew he couldn't tell her how much he'd missed her. Then she really would shove him out the door—or an airlock, more likely.
"And I was going to say it seemed like just a couple of weeks," she countered. I haven't forgiven you hung in the air as if she'd said it out loud.
"Dad was pretty broken up when you disappeared." He didn't tell her the rest, didn't say how her leaving had torn a hole in his life. He knew he had no right to complain about that.
She looked guilty for a moment, but covered it with anger. "Really? And how would you know that when you refused to even speak to him?"
Lee tightened his jaw. She knew very well why he'd not been on good terms with his father back then. "I'm speaking to him now."
"I guess when the world ends all your petty squabbles seem pointless," she mocked.
'Including ours?' he wanted to ask, but he already knew the answer. "He looked for you, you know."
"Bet you didn't," she shot back.
"I did," he insisted. "You obviously didn't want to be found."
"Not by you, no," she admitted coolly, then tossed back the rest of her drink and sat back. "Not that it hasn't been fun reminiscing and all, but why are you here, Lee?"
He sighed. Better get it over with then, so she could throw him out and he could return to his father and honestly say he'd tried. "The commander was hoping you would join Galactica's air group. We desperately need some more pilots. And…"
She raised an eyebrow, "And?"
"I thought you were dead. I wanted to see you." Frak. He hadn't meant to admit that.
She laughed derisively, "Right."
He sighed. This was going nowhere. He was about to stand up and leave just as there was another knock on her door.
If he hadn't been so attuned to her still, he might have missed it—she stiffened slightly, and her eyes flickered away from his. Just as quickly, she collected herself and went to answer the door without a word, leaving him sitting on the couch by himself.
"Hey kid, did you have a good day at school?" Lee heard her ask. He blinked. Kid? School? He felt his pulse begin to pound in his chest and only just caught the end of her next sentence. "…thanks for bringing him. I'll see you tomorrow."
He turned in his seat until he could see the hatch as she closed it. There was now another blond head standing beside Kara, at waist height.
The boy's eyes met Lee's, and a frown crossed his face. He was obviously wondering who this stranger was who was sitting on his mother's couch—because he was clearly Kara's child; his golden head and generous mouth were pure Kara, and so was the little crease above his nose. The eyes, however, were a familiar shade of blue, and there was a distinctly Adama set to his jaw.
She must have told the child to wait in his room, but he couldn't hear a word over the blood rushing in his ears. The boy (his son, and he had no right to be surprised at this) disappeared behind the interior door, and Kara turned her attention back to him. She stared at him defiantly for several long moments. "As you can see, I have other priorities now," she finally said.
Lee managed to speak with some difficulty. "Kara—"
"What, you didn't think I could do it on my own, Adama?" she challenged him.
"I've never doubted you could do anything you put your mind to, Thrace," he shot back, and then admitted, "I just didn't think you would." He couldn't stop staring at the door the boy had gone through. He had a thousand questions, but asking any of them would be pushing his luck just that bit too far.
"His name is Sebastian," she told him softly, and when his eyes flicked back to hers, she looked as vulnerable as when she first told him about the baby.
"After your Dad."
Somehow his words broke the moment and Kara's eyes narrowed. She was building up the walls again. "I think you should go now." It was clearly all she was going to offer him.
Lee took his cue and followed her to the hatch, but turned before she closed the door. He searched desperately for something to say, not wanting to leave it like this. "I'm glad you went through with it," he admitted.
It was entirely the wrong thing to say. "I didn't do it for you," she hissed, presumably keeping her voice low so that their son didn't hear through the door. "We're done here, okay Lee? You made your position clear six years ago. We don't need you, and you can tell Commander Adama that I'm sorry, but I'm not interested in reactivating my commission. And please, don't forget to tell him why."
This time, the hatch was shut firmly in his face.
~ * ~
Six Years Earlier:
Today was the day Lee would tell her he was leaving. He had put it off for too long already, knowing it would hurt her deeply, but not knowing what else to do.
They could not go on as they were.
When he opened the door to his apartment, she smiled at him, the first genuine smile he'd seen in months. He couldn't stop his hand from reaching out to caress her cheek, and she stepped into his embrace, tilting her face up to his.
"Kara," he breathed, and despite his trepidation at what he had to do, her kiss filled him with warmth and he succumbed to her mouth for several long minutes. Finally pulling away and resting his forehead against hers, he told her, "We need to talk."
She nodded, biting her lip.
He cast about, looking for somewhere to start. There was no easy way to do it, though.
Just tell her.
"Kara, I applied for a transfer to the Atlantia air group. And it was approved."
She bit her lip, searching his face for something only she could see. "I've heard about it. They're going on a deep space mission, aren't they?"
He nodded. "Yeah."
"How long until I leave, or how long will I be gone?"
"Either. Both." She wasn't taking it well. Frak.
"I have to report in two weeks. As for how long, I'm not sure. Depends what we find, but up to a year."
"Why?" Her voice was too calm now, and he knew things were about to get ugly.
Bite the bullet, Lee. "Because I think… that maybe we shouldn't see each other for a while."
She pulled back from him, the hurt apparent on her face and he hurried to explain. "I'm not…" he forced himself to slow down, take a breath. "This isn't goodbye, Kara. Just for a little while, OK? It's too soon after…" He swallowed the lump in his throat and had to force himself to continue. "I don't want anyone to think you didn't love him. And I want you to be sure you want me. In six months maybe, or a year…"
He wanted to tell her he loved her, but it still felt like a betrayal of his brother, so instead he reached for her hand. She shrank back from him, the tears in her eyes fiercely reined in.
Then she dropped her own bombshell. "Lee, I'm pregnant."
He froze. His chest constricted and his lungs tried to draw air, but there wasn't any to be had. This could not be happening.
"Are... are you sure?" he finally managed.
She nodded. "Yeah. I got tested." She was biting her lip and staring at him, waiting for him to figure out how to make this all right, but he had nothing. This was all wrong. "Say something, Lee," she whispered.
"Kara, we can't," he blurted before he could stop himself. "What would people say? Zak's only been gone four months!"
She looked like he'd punched her in the gut. "It's a little late to think about that now, don't you think? This is happening, and we can't take it back."
He noted how her hand covered her stomach as she took a step back from him. Gods, she really meant it. He felt suddenly terrified. A baby? He couldn't be a father, he had no idea how. His own father had hardly been a good role model, and he couldn't bear to think of his own child growing up resenting him. Or worse, getting himself killed trying to live up to impossible expectations.
He started to shake his head and found he couldn't stop. "I can't. I'm not ready. Not now, maybe not ever."
He thought she would start to cry now, but instead she pushed her shoulders back and spat bile at him. "What, so it's okay to frak a few times, but anything deeper is betraying Zak's memory?"
If he'd been thinking straight he would have realised this was Kara trying desperately not to fall apart, but he wasn't and he didn't. "Kara, that's not what I said. I do care about you, but we just need some space."
She seemed to calm then, and he foolishly thought she was seeing reason. "Space. Okay, Lee, you can have your space. I just thought—" she choked the rest of the sentence off with a sob, then took a deep breath and collected herself. "Never mind, Lee. I'll take care of it."
He tried to put his arms around her then, but she backed away. He supposed he deserved that. "I think it's best if I just go. Have a nice life, Lee." And she walked out of his flat with her head held high.
When he tried to call her a few days later, he found that she'd disconnected her phone and cancelled the lease on her flat.
She'd also left no forwarding address.
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