The first boy you ever like knocks you down on the playground and calls you bad names.
The act itself tears a hole in your pants, causing your stomach to drop because you know you're going to catch it bad the second Mama sees it, the same thing that always happens when she says you don't respect anything.
You stay there on your knees for a second, feeling the shame build inside, fighting back tears.
He never sees it coming, the stupid boy, never expects you to actually do something until his blood is spilling over your hand all warm and red. While his friends stand there stunned, all three of them afraid to get anywhere close to you, you can see the teachers running toward the scene out of the corner of your eye.
They rush to pull you off, still screaming like an animal, telling him to take it back.
Mama is upset, but not for the reason you think. Oh sure she yells about the pants, about respecting the things she provides for you, but she actually doesn't care about them, which is a little shocking.
She's more concerned with what you did to the boy.
It scares you, the mild grin of approval on her face, for just how strong a lesson you taught him.
No, you're draped over her knee because you let him knock you to the ground in the first place.
Because you never-smack-ever-smack- let anyone push you around.
You forget how old you are, (younger than anyone should be), when you realize Mama never truly pays attention to you when you're good. When you bring home good grades, when you get a nice note from a teacher, it's readily ignored, tossed aside and dismissed as foolishness or showboating.
But the second you do something ill advised, another fight or hell, purposely not making the bed, there she is all scowls and fury ready to teach you a lesson.
The bandage on your head is fresh from the broom handle, skull still throbbing if you sit still long enough, like in the toy store staring at a package of rubber bugs and plotting revenge.
Mama hates bugs, has ever since you can remember, watching her scream in terror at roaches in the kitchen.
Cubits heavy in your pocket, the plan crying out from the pain underneath the bandage, you buy them and run all the way home.
Later in the hospital as she coaches you on what to say to the authorities so they won't snatch you away, your head feels a little better because now all the ache is focused in your fingers.
You're doodling that swirling pattern that's always on the back of your eyelids when you're about to go to sleep, with the wrong hand, while she sits on the side of the bed with a magazine idly turning pages and ignoring the occasional whimper that escapes your mouth.
It's like this for two days until finally she asks: Are you going to be a good girl from now on?
As if she prefers you act that way.
You nod, she smiles, and for the moment you both accept the lie.
You sell out your first real boyfriend when Mama catches you lying straight to her face.
Thirteen-years-old, naïve though you never think so, with a tall, muscular sixteen-year-old from Aquaria who lied about his age to join the fleet.
So many days spent sneaking off to hidden corners of the base when he wasn't on duty, telling Mama you were at the library, movies, or some other tele-vid cliché for this type of behavior.
He's pretty, dumb as a brick, and you feel so superior for getting away with it as long as you do.
Mama catches you strolling in one night past eleven, when she was supposed to be on duty until at least two, she's up in your face faster than you can blink demanding to know where you've been, who you've been with, and what the frak did you think you were doing?
You hate that she can still scare you like you're five, back peddling immediately; scrambling for a stray thought that could convince her you weren't up to anything inappropriate.
Head snapping sideways from the slap, she dares you to lie again, dares you to come up with some explanation for your behavior, because she already knows what a little slut you are running around with a marine she thinks is five years older than you.
Throwing your hands up in defense only makes it worse, her voice growing louder, the slaps coming quicker.
Only when she splits your lip do you finally give him up, coming up with the lame defense that he's not as old as he says he is, somehow thinking it will actually help in the situation.
She lowers her hands after that, gives you the same cold smile she's been giving for years whenever you finally confess your sins.
Two days later he's dishonorably discharged.
You never see him again.
Pyramid is something Mama never understands.
Which honestly kind of confuses you, because it has all the rules and disciplines she's been trying to instill in you since you could walk, you think it'd be right up her alley.
It's a waste of time, is her fallback defense. No one like you is ever going to make it to the pros so why bother dreaming? Dreams are for children, and as you're constantly trying to remind her, you're no longer a child.
It burns a fire in you so bright it's almost blinding, spite-fueled aggression on the court making you better than most. Makes you stronger, makes you faster, and no one in the history of your school has scored so many goals.
Scouts are drooling, sponsors waiting with baited breath, for the day you graduate.
You're a finely tuned machine, a superstar, and yet there is still a part of you that is that little girl desperately vying for your mother's attention.
An unfortunate side effect of being watched so closely is that your private life is no longer that. Every step, sneeze, or arch of your brow at someone who piques your interest is closely monitored.
So of course the rumor mill runs rampant when you start dating a player from an opposing team. Whispers of traitor or spy, depending on the speaker, circle your head like annoying flies. As if you actually give a frak what other people think.
Still, the pressure keeps building, and after awhile you have to admit you start to feel it.
Six weeks after dating the rumors swirled into a hurricane, traitor no longer tossed around, but sucker a prime occurrence.
He's the one whose been using you.
He's the one whose been accepting money, trying to fish for information.
He's the one whose been screwing around with some dumb cheerleader behind your back.
Spite fueled rage goes into overload on the court, getting you reckless, crazy, and mean.
Last game of the season, scouts circling like vultures, you vow to make him pay for making a fool out of you no matter the consequence.
Two days later, propped in a hospital bed with your knee carefully wrapped in a cast, the phone is silent for the first time in months.
A horrible accident, they say, an unfortunate incident of circumstance.
Makes it all sound so simple.
The pressure, the boy, your mother…
You knew what you were doing.
You sign up because, well, there really wasn't a contingency plan beyond pyramid.
An average student who didn't have a shot at college without the game, you find that stack of flyers on a table in the rehab clinic, the odd feel of longing staring at the picture of vipers flying in formation.
Almost feels as if fate, or whatever, is poking you in the back with a sharp pointy stick.
In the recruitment office you don't even bother to listen to the regular sales pitch of whatever job the officer thinks he can get you, because you already know what you want. Only one thing will get you to sign your name on the dotted line.
"I want to fly vipers," you say.
The recruiter smiles.
At first you hate how familiar it feels.
The early morning wake up calls, the running, the push-ups, the drill instructors two inches away from your face yelling at the top of their lungs, spitting all over your cheek. It all reminds you of dear old mom, how she treated you this exact same way, and the continual speech throughout your life about how you were to be this gods' like warrior woman.
Of course you test the limits, always wanting to know just what you can get away with. Drinking, bar fights, the fling with the Major, (gods what a bad idea that was.) And when the realization hits that the biggest punishment you're going to get is scrubbing toilet bowls with a toothbrush, you almost start to love it.
The first time you meet Lee Adama he scares the frak out of you.
Because you know, shaking his hand and staring into those ice blue eyes, you know you'll do anything for him.
Lucky, (or unlucky you never quite figure it out), he is not the type of person to put you in that position. He's cut off and guarded most of the time, damaged goods just as you are, (varying degrees or whatever), and gods' help you, you want to know why. You can always see it hidden under that cool exterior, and wonder if it's the reason you turn out to be such good friends.
Sometimes, the way he looks at you, there's the feeling that he's thinking exactly the same.
He's infuriating a lot of the time, pushing when you don't want him to push, or standing stoically when you feel like fighting. You wonder how it can be so easy to remain friends with someone who is practically your polar opposite, but it's there and it works.
The first kiss, you really don't know whose fault it is, but it's clear when asked each one of you will say it was the other.
Something about that makes you smile.
It falls apart faster than you realize.
You want to say you were blindsided, that everything was fine one day and suddenly it wasn't, but you know that isn't true.
He wants more than you're willing to give, and part of you hates him for it. That he's never willing to take what's there. He wants you to say things, wants you to mean things, and he pushes, always pushes, when you don't want him to.
It becomes a thing, hanging in the background of the relationship, festering until one day he just snaps.
"You'll never be able to tell me how much you care," he has the audacity to say, all quiet and hushed like he never wanted to utter the words aloud. "And that's just not good enough anymore."
He waits; just frakking waits there for you to say something. To prove him wrong or right you're just not sure.
You want to.
Oh, you want to.
The words are rising up from your heart, straight through your chest, yet freezing in your throat.
He turns to walk away, and you don't do anything but watch him leave, fingernails pressed into your palm hard enough to draw blood.
Lee walking away hurts more than you'll ever admit, and it gets to you more than you want, because you're slipping and it's starting to become noticeable.
The highest ranking you held was third, the best damn natural flyer anyone has seen in years, the instructors say.
Whenever you close your eyes you see his back, the sound his boots made, and you find that it takes an awful lot of booze to make that image fade. It gets in the way of your flying, and that makes you hate him a little more.
That's where you end up.
Hell, out of one-hundred and seventeen cadets it's still an achievement, and the pride felt is real enough.
The last time you see Mama is no different than any other.
You've just made officer, and she says congratulations, yet somehow still remains cold and mean. Even when she's frakking dying she still expects better of you, is still disappointed that you didn't make number one, even if you were good enough to make officer when she wasn't.
What really cuts, is all that crap about you being special, because she's always insisted, but never treated as such a day in your life.
It goes from bad to worse, the conversation, and then you're swearing you'll walk out that door, and every miserable day she has left she will know you're never coming through it again.
You forget how long you run, how many tears actually spill, but you keep your promise.
When the letter comes you shed just one more tear, crumple it up and toss it away.
The first time you meet Zak Adama you know he's different.
A flight instructor for only six months, still feeling a bit unsteady on your teaching legs, he asks a lot of questions and doesn't balk or blanche when you fire insults at him for being a nugget and having the audacity to exist.
He takes it, all of it, everything you ever give, especially what you don't give and he never asks for, and more. He doesn't push or prod, or become this massive force invading your life. Instead, he coexists alongside you, merely goes along for the ride.
You fight it.
For the longest time you deny what he does to you, using regs you couldn't give a frak about, the fact that you and his brother once were a thing, as a shield to keep him away. But he's there, always just there, in some capacity, smiling at you, making you feel something churning in your gut.
And then one night there are too many drinks, typical, and all your walls come crashing down.
He's looking at you in that way he does, and for a quick sobering second you know he has no idea you ever shared something with his brother, and that for as long as you can, you'll never tell.
When he kisses you, all thoughts of Lee just melt away.
For a long healthy stretch it's the best you've ever felt.
You're more confident in teaching, in duty, you don't get into as much trouble as you used to. When he takes you home to meet his mother you even watch your mouth because you actually want to make a good impression.
Even meeting up with Lee again, it's not as bad as you assumed. Oh it's not good by any means, standing there stiff and awkward on his little brother's arm with your fingers linked with his, but it's not the explosion you thought it'd be.
And after awhile he sees how happy you are, how Zak is the reason, and accepts it because maybe, he's sorry he could never make you feel that way.
The hitch in your grand love story is that Zak is shit for flying.
He has absolutely no natural intuition for the craft, and what he has to learn, he does so very slowly. What kills you is how hard he tries, how much work he actually puts into it. If even a quarter of your class put in as much effort you'd be hailed as a genius.
But you know, deep down in your gut, that all the training in the worlds is never going to earn him those wings.
It's because you love him, truly madly deeply, that you do what you do. The lies, the assurance that you wouldn't pass him if he didn't have the chops.
It's because he loves you, because he puts a ring on your finger, that you make the biggest mistake of your life.
It takes all you have not to break down in front of his family.
Lee won't even look at you, simultaneously consoling his mother and staring daggers at his father, the man standing right next to you, the man who just gave you a one way ticket out of this place, out of the memories.
You watch as Lee places the wings on the coffin, the ones he never truly earned, and a small gasp escapes you. One noticeable enough for the Commander to place his hand on the small of your back, a tiny gesture that threatens to send the waterworks gushing forward.
When the salute fires off, you can't help but flinch, the guilt running wild in your mind. The Commander's hand still on your back, Lee still refusing to meet your eyes, the cold harsh truth you alone are the reason anyone is here at all.
You'd like to say you wised up after what happened. That you got your act together, became a shining example of an officer, and an all around better human being.
Yeah, you'd like to say that, but your history has a nasty way of repeating itself. Falling deftly back into old habits: drinking, fighting, frakking. Getting into more trouble than you ever have before, demerits and insubordinations on a list, running two kilometers long.
It's your skill with a stick that always bails you out, that and the old man's fondness for you.
It's all going to catch up one day, this you know, and when it does you'll welcome it with open arms because deep down you know you deserve it.
Two years, you think, looking at his familiar face on the other side of the bars.
Far too long.
He looks exactly the same, and for that you want to hug him, half wondering that if there wasn't a cell to be stuck in, if you'd actually have the guts.
It's so easy just to fall into it with him, teasing and taunting.
Striking a superior asshole.
Pretty damn clever, even for you, and for ten whole second it's like nothing ever changed.
You ask how long it's been even though it's the first thought that popped into your head the second you saw him, and (idiot) the first thing you do is bring up the last time you saw each other. And once you start you can't stop, bringing up the old man, how often you talk about Zak. Lee is twisting in the wind he looks so uncomfortable but something inside just won't let you stop, and it all spirals down from there.
He still blames is father, the guilt in your heart irked because, as always, he's aiming it the wrong way. It pisses you off because it's all lies and you're still too much of a coward to admit what you've done, so you push it to him, same old Lee, and you fully realize that no, nothing ever changes.
Zak was his brother, yeah got that part, and what was he to you, nothing?
Not what he meant, you don't care, two years too long and it's all your fault, he doesn't know, and the double edged sword is poised between the two of you carving old wounds even bigger.
So clever you use it again, and when he's gone you don't feel anything, just empty.
At times you caught yourself thinking that Lee was your other half, and Zak, he felt like your missing piece.
All of that is gone now, your missing piece lying in a polished box that might not even be there anymore, and your other half just met the business end of a thermo-nuclear detonation.
In front of your locker, that old picture, more sadness and memories than you know what to do with.
You haven't spoken in two years, and your last conversation pretty much guaranteed it would be two more. And that would be okay, that would be damn frakking preferable to this.
The three of you standing there, so in love with Zak, and Lee standing off to the side begrudgingly accepting of it.
He's gone, Zak's gone, it's all gone. And you can't, won't, fall apart.
Lords of Kobol hear my prayer.
You've never believed in miracles.
With your life, your circumstances, how the frak could you?
But there he is, in the flesh, and somehow you keep from hugging him again.
It's awkward for about five seconds, and he lets you both off the hook by asking about repairs.
It's always going to be this way between the two of you, and in times like these, you wouldn't have it any other way.
Look, listen, come home. That's the mission. No heroics.
You feel his eyes on you, feel the fear being broadcast in his gaze. He wants you to come back, and it's not because he's the CAG now and you're one of his men. It's because he's Lee, and you're Kara, and every second the two of you are alive it counts twice as much.
You don't want to live another one of those seconds with the sting of regret cutting into your soul.
He walks away, and you call him back, and finally it all comes spilling out. Not because you have to, not because it's the end of the world and you want to confess your sins.
Because for a minute you thought everything would be okay, for a minute you believed the two of you could get somewhere beyond what you were before.
Because it's what you do.
Because, for once, it's the right thing.