Title: Kara Thrace's Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Special Destiny
Pairing: K/L
Rating: G
Category: Crack!Fic
Spoilers: All Episodes
Summary: She had all of eternity to be happy. If only the afterlife wasn't so boring...

Kara concentrates hard. She blinks once. Nothing. She shakes her head and sighs. Kara focuses again and blinks harder, her face screwing up tight.*POOF* A cold glass bottle of booze appears in her hand. She grins. Maybe she's finally getting the hang of this afterlife thing.

She's been here about a week now she figures (the passage of time isn't so carefully documented here where time is endless), and she's still adjusting to the idea of eternal paradise. The Elysian Fields are lush and verdant, stunning in their beauty, and peaceful. There's an endless supply of anything you could ever want (once you get the hang of this poofing thing) and nearly everyone she's ever loved is here.

Kara is elated to see them all again. They were waiting when she poofed into this existence. Zak, her beautiful boy, alive and smiling. And Sammy, standing tall and grinning and whole again. Zak and Sam are great friends and Kara pretends to be surprised by it, but she's really not. The three of them drink and they laugh and they play pyramid together. They even have sex—separately and, on one memorable night after too many poofs of ambrosia, together, in a tangle of heated limbs and easy smiles. (While it's happening, Kara thinks ironically, she has better statistical odds now than she ever did of saying the right name at the right time, but still she bites her tongue and refuses to close her eyes. She doesn't think about why.)

Of course, there are others here too. Her father and her mother, who seem to be together again. It's shocking to see her mother happy. Kara can't remember ever seeing Socrata smile so much. There are actually family dinners, which are surprisingly not that awkward after a while, but she secretly laughs about them and catalogues them in her head for repeating. And if she sometimes thinks "I can't wait to tell…."—well, she stops herself before she gets to the name that comes next.

In general, she tries not to do much thinking these days. Kara snorts when she starts thinking about that and realizes how much her afterlife resembles her life. It's paradise and she's still making the same mistakes she always did. Perhaps she should ask for a refund.

But the truth is she feels more like herself now than she has in a really long time. Except better, lighter, without the burden or the fear that had been almost ever-present before, relieved of the enormous pressure of having a destiny to fulfill. The last year had been an endless fever dream. She'd moved through the motions in a haze of confusion and pain and ignorance with so few moments of clarity. The truth is she'd only ever felt fully like herself when she was with…

Kara sighs.

She has to stop thinking about her previous life. She has all of eternity to be happy. Eternity filled with anything she could desire and all—almost all, her brain insists stubbornly—the people she has ever loved. It should be enough. She needs to make it be enough. So Kara watches them all very closely. They are happy, deliriously so. No one seems troubled as she is, plagued with small doubts and stuck in the memories and half-remembered fantasies of a life that couldn't be.

If only the afterlife wasn't so boring. If she has to sing Kumbayah one more time…

Kara thinks perhaps the problem is that she lacks a sense of purpose here. She's always felt better when she has a mission to complete. She figures if anyone would know about missions, it'd be Helena Cain. So she corners the woman one day and asks to talk. As she looks at the former Admiral, who sports an easy smile and no sign of the quiet tension she used to wear like a badge of honor, Kara is shocked to realize the woman is nearly unrecognizable now.

"So, what do you do here?" Kara watches her face anxiously.

"Do?" Cain looks back at her in surprise.

"Yeah, what's the objective…the sitrep, the….the point to all this?"

Cain smiles at her and shoots her a slightly pitying glance. "It's not a war, my dear." She smoothes her hand over Kara's hair. "The point is to be happy." Dropping a kiss on Kara's forehead, she stands to leave.

Kara nods, deflated and disconcerted. She watches as Cain joins hands with that Six model who'd killed her and they walk off together laughing.

Happy. Like that. Right. For a moment, Kara feels an overwhelming sadness and thinks if happiness means wiping out everything that once made you who you are, she'd rather stay miserable forever. It's a cynical thought, her first one since entering the afterlife, and Kara immediately dismisses it as a foolish one. Of course, she wants to be happy. In fact, she should get right on that. If only she could remember how…

Kara thinks hard about the things that used to make her happy. She makes a list and ticks them off as she tries each in turn.

Painting is fun. Rather than the abstract circles of the mandala, she paints faces now. Every face she's ever seen. Except the one she sees still every time she closes her eyes.

Cards and liquor are a good distraction for a while, but it's impossible to work up more than a good buzz and there isn't much fun in winning stakes when the loser can just poof up a replacement. She tries not to get depressed over the fact that she wishes she was still playing for socks.

Jogging is the closest she can get to flying these days. Kara can run and run and run and never get tired now, but no one else seems to have any interest in trying to keep up with her.

Fighting and shooting, as one would imagine, are frowned upon here. Sometimes she sneaks into a far-off field anyway and poofs up a gun and a few tin cans and has a little target practice. But there's no one there to egg her on and taunt her about missing when she wings a rock instead.

When she gets too bored, she seeks out Gaeta and Dee, half-heartedly taunting them. But it's not as much fun now that he has both legs again. And they only ever just smile at her. Kara wonders sometimes if she missed an orientation, one where they handed out endless supplies of happy pills or did some kind of small-scale lobotomy. It would explain a lot.

When she gets really, really bored and the memories won't stop coming and the booze doesn't help, she usually ends up taking a swing at Kat, who is still as ridiculously irritating as she was in their first go-round. She always misses though. She figures that's divine intervention and it pisses her off. She wonders what it takes to get kicked out of paradise. Then she wonders if she's the only person ever to wonder about that. She thinks the answer is probably yes.

The constant feeling that she is missing something, some essential part of this experience, niggles at her, and Kara thinks if she could just know, just find some answers as to why she is the way she is, she could be at peace finally. So she twists a few arms until she finally secures herself an audience with the guy in charge. No one ever speaks of him (at least she thinks the boss is a him) so Kara's not sure what to expect. She is ushered through the fields for what seems like hours only to emerge by a set of gates. They aren't quite pearly, but they do have a sort of sparkle to them.

Kara passes through the high arch and a desk materializes before her. Behind it, a figure poofs into sight. She looks up from the desktop and does a double take when she recognizes him.

"Boxey?!"

The kid beams at her. "Hey, Starbuck. Or should I call you God?" He laughs loudly as his own joke. "Or maybe you should call me God."

Kara stares at him in openmouthed shock, flushing involuntarily. "God…." Her head is spinning. "So Gaius Baltar was right. There is only one true creator and … you're him?" Her eyes widen until she's sure they're bigger than a Picon moon. "Frak me," she breathes. Immediately, Kara wonders if she should apologize for swearing at God, but considering he doesn't even look like he shaves yet, she belays that.

"Actually I don't really like when people call me that. I prefer to keep a low-profile." He winks, then throws his arms out motioning to the fields around them. "So what do you think?" Boxey leans back in his chair and puts his feet up on the desk.

Kara shuffles uncomfortably and is surprised to feel a chair pressing into the back of her legs. She sinks down gratefully. "I didn't expect it to be so…"

"Peaceful? Gorgeous? Awesome?" He supplies helpfully.

"Lame." She shrugs unrepentantly.

His eyebrows raise and he kicks his feet down to the floor. "Really? Most people love it here."

She levels a stare at him. "I'm not most people."

Boxey smiles. "No, I suppose you've always been a special case." He looks down at the desk before him. Some folders and papers poof onto the shiny marbleized surface. He peers at the paperwork, nodding and clucking as Kara grows more annoyed. She tries to crane her head to see what he's reading, but she's not so adept at reading upside down.

"So," he grins, slapping his hands over the writing so Kara can't see it. "Do you know why you're here?"

"Because I finally pissed off enough people." She smirks.

He rolls his eyes. "Not here with me. Here in the afterlife."

Kara scowls. "Well, it probably has something to do with the time that damned cylon convinced me to fly into this storm and I blew into a million chunks. Or maybe it has something to do with the crispy shell of a corpse I burned on Earth—er, fake Earth. Earth 1.0." She sneers, only a little surprised at the anger she's feeling suddenly, talking about all of this. Truth is, it feels good. The part of her that will always be Starbuck approves. "Honestly, it's all a little fuzzy to me. All I know is that I finished my so-called destiny and completed my journey. And then someone waved their crazy space magic wand and poofed me up here."

The kid looks surprised and frowns, flipping the pages before him and scanning their contents. "Finished it? What do you think this destiny you keep talking about was?"

Kara stares at him blankly. "To find Earth. I led the human race to its end just like that frakking hybrid said I would." She shakes her head recalling it. "I had a vision, or maybe a memory, or both really, I guess," her brow furrows in confusion, "of my father teaching me a song that I played when I was a kid and then I turned the song into jump coordinates and that led us to Earth. The Good Earth. Earth 2.0."

Her even gaze falters and she mumbles, "Great. I sound like a frakking headcase."

Boxey stares at her and his lips slowly pull into a grin, he laughs and laughs and laughs some more. When he recovers, he asks, "So you think there was divine intervention so you could remember some song your father taught you as a kid? A song you could have recalled any time if you hadn't been hitting the booze so hard?"

Kara frowned. "Look, if that wasn't it, then why was I sent back?"

"Because you hadn't completed your mission of course."

"And what the frak was my mission?" she growled, impatience growing stronger.

"Ahem, let's see," he checked the papers in front of him, scanning a finger across the lines of text. "Oh, of course. You were supposed to ease the passage of one Leland Joseph Adama.

Lee? What the frak? "Ease the passage?" her words dripped with derision.

"Yup." Boxey reclines again in the chair, locking his hands behind his head. He looks so carefree that Kara's anger only grows.

"Passage to where?" Her words are clipped.

Boxey sighs. "You were a lot smarter on Galactica. Maybe all that algae turned your brain to mush."

Kara looks at him with suspicion. "I'm not an angel, am I?

He chokes, snorting with laughter. "A what?"

The kid doubles over, practically falling out of his chair he's giggling so hard. "Do you see any white fluffy wings growing out of your back? No, Kara, you're no angel."

Kara stills, tension knotting her body, fear creeping like a chill down her bones. "So then what the frak am I?"

"Well, we prefer to call it a soul extractor."

She pauses, while the words sink in. Then Kara's eyes fly open wide. "Are you telling me I'm a frakking grim reaper?"

"The death that surrounded you in life Kara Thrace was no accident." Boxey leans forward but as Kara stares at him, his visage ripples, shimmering in the light of the sun that has just emerged from behind a cloud. He looks suddenly unrecognizable, his silhouette growing, looming above her. When he speaks there's a hollow booming quality to his voice, making it echo in her head. "The fate you have always struggled with so was no mere whim of a capricious God, Starbuck. It was your talent."

"Talent." Kara tries to breathe. "I was talented," she grasps for the words "at death." It comes out more like a question than a statement.

The visage before her twists, changing back into the familiar teenager she once knew. Boxey shrugs, grinning impishly. "Everyone has a skill."

Kara gulps, her mind already skipping backwards trying to take in this new information.

"You were doing so promisingly at first, you know. Zak Adama, the younger brother of said Leland, that soul extraction was right on schedule. And things were going according to plan until the attack." He frowned. "Damned impatient cylons. That wasn't supposed to happen for another twenty years you know."

His words, so innocently revealed, are too much to process. Kara tries to focus.

"But then you took it upon yourself to save one Leland Joseph Adama from dying. We thought perhaps it was a fluke. That you had been doing your best to get him with that crazy viper stunt. Surely anyone else trying that shenanigan would have procured a soul extraction. But you both lived." He shakes his head in amazement looking at the papers before him.

"When weeks passed and there was no follow- up attempt, we tried to take you back. Clearly you were malfunctioning. But you resisted our efforts at every turn. We thought for sure we had you on that moon until you found that raider and somehow managed to fly it. And then on Caprica twice we tried to recall you, but you beat the Six and then escaped from that hospital. Your determination to remain bound to that plane of existence was quite amazing."

Boxey pauses, flipping the papers before him, frowning again. "Things got slightly muddled after that. Samuel T. Anders was never meant to be your assignment but we thought perhaps you were trying to redeem yourself, since you left him for dead on that nuked out planet despite having that ship which could have clearly fit him and a dozen more survivors. Then you didn't bother trying to get those antibiotics on New Caprica until it was nearly too late." The boy clucks his tongue, shaking his head gently. "Too bad he was so resilient. Of course, you didn't know he was one of those special cylons so we couldn't quite hold that against you."

Kara sits frozen, as her brain races to process. Boxey poofs a cigar into existence and lights it, taking a long draw and blowing a few smoke rings before he continues.

"And then before we knew it, you were killing those cylon model twos on a regular basis." He looks at her approvingly. "That was good work."

"But it was time to bring out the big guns. We knew after that--" he pauses and clears his throat, "that indiscretion between you two on New Caprica that Adama would be in no mindset to follow you willingly anywhere. So we had to sacrifice you. We led you to that vortex and sent you that head spirit so you would not resist us." He shakes his head in wonder. "We were so sure that if we took you, he would follow. But we underestimated his resilience as well."

"Anyway, we had no choice. Your mission was not completed and we had to send you back."

Kara holds up her hand. "Wait, just…wait a frakking minute…you're telling me my destiny was to kill Lee? Why? What was so special about him?"

Boxey shrugs. "Nothing particularly, it was just his time according to the schedule."

"The schedule?" Kara sneers. "So everyone's fate is set when they're born. You only get so much time and that's it? Then how did I keep evading death?"

Boxey looks at her, his eyes narrowing slightly. "Look, you seem really hung up on this idea of a destiny. Maybe that number two hit the rivers and streams and you're so special stuff a little hard." He sighs and scratches his head. "Once in a while, I get someone who's curious like this, they want to question it, and know what the grand plan is, and why this happened and why that." He waves his hands, shaking them around like a magician. "It just has to be this way, Okay? There's a schedule and we have to stick to it. Everything has to come to an end at some point. And if we don't have it all, you know plotted out in some logical fashion, people get upset."

Kara looks at him, incredulous. "But you're God, you're the man in charge. You expect me to believe you don't know what happens? That you just throw the pieces onto the chessboard and hope for the best?!"

He thinks for a moment, then nods. "Pretty much. I'm not a micro-manager, you know. I like to let things happen. When I get bored, I just come up with something cool to throw a wrench in the works. Keeps it fun."

Kara looks at him with disgust. She thinks it's probably a bad idea to poof up a sidearm and take a shot at God, even if he is a complete frakking idiot, so she restrains herself and tries to just go with it. "Okay, okay, fine. So there was no plan, other than you needed me to take Lee's soul. And I didn't do it all the times I was supposed to, so you sent me back to… kill him." She grits out. "You're frakking insane."

"Well, we didn't think you'd, you know, murder him on purpose, of course. I was on Galactica for a while, you remember. I saw how close the two of you were." He stroked his chin contemplatively, muttering almost to himself. "I really thought I had a good shot at winning that pool as a matter of fact…" Catching Kara glowering at him, he speeds on. "But I digress. You were rather out of your mind for a bit there. The whole rebirth process can do that sometimes." He taps his forehead and whispers theatrically, "messes with the internal wiring a bit."

"Still you were our best soul extractor, we figured you'd work it out somehow. Like perhaps he would stray into your friendly fire like that time before or maybe…well, the possibilities are endless when it comes to you, Starbuck." He grins approvingly and flashes her a thumbs up. "Death is your gift."

Kara growls and he barrels on. "Of course, we couldn't anticipate what transpired. Something very unexpected happened this time. You weren't fighting each other at all anymore. In fact, you were confiding in each other and supporting each other," he says it as if this was the most unimaginable thing in the world. Boxey clucks his tongue. "We couldn't quite understand it. We hadn't foreseen you…growing." He shudders. "We thought maybe it was a fluke though, that you were just so confused you were seeking comfort. Anyway, we gave you one more chance to right things, during the mutiny. Just a hair to the right…" he sighs forlornly, "but no. We realized it was futile at that point. We could never get you take him in. The only way he might come to his eternal rest was if we left him nothing."

"Of course, that took some sorting." He rolls his eyes. "You wouldn't believe the paperwork to do all that crazy bit with the song and the coordinates and the little half-cylon girl and planting that ridiculous notion about technology being bad…" He wipes his brow in mock exhaustion. "It was quite a bit of organizing really, not nearly so easy as waving any magic wand as you say." Boxey scratches his chin. "I wonder where you'd get one of those actually…." He looks off into the distance, eyes glazing over.

Kara glowers, snapping her fingers in front of his nose, and he refocuses. "Anyway, yes, so we figure at this point, it's just a matter of time until he blunders off a cliff or gets eaten by mountain lions, or you know, just dies of heartbreak." He shrugs.

Kara's chest constricts at that cavalierly tossed off last bit and an enormous wave of anger and adrenaline rushes through her blood. She seethes with disgust at this frakking child talking about them as if they were just his playthings. Then Kara realizes with a shock that for the longest time that's all she was. They used her. The anger boils over until she feels like she's on fire. Well. No more. She was Starbuck and it was about time she remembered that.

She jolts upward, toppling her chair in her haste. It poofs out of existence before hitting the ground and she is inspired with a wonderful idea. "Look, you egocentric motherfrakker, I don't know if you're God or the devil, but I am no one's frakking tool. I don't know how I ever forgot that." She shakes her head, voice quaking with anger. "Maybe you brainwashed me when you locked me in that dollhouse on New Caprica. Whatever. I am done with this. I don't belong here."

To her surprise, Boxey just looks at her and smirks. "Really? And where will you go?"

She smiles and it's deadly. "Where I was always supposed to be."

*POOF*

With a loud pop, Kara blinks out of the afterlife.

The figure behind the desk stares at the empty space, blinking and shaking his head. It seems today is a day full of surprises. No one's ever had enough spirit to just poof away like this before. He supposes he could take her back. It would be easy enough to do. But he always had a fondness for that Starbuck. So feisty, so in love with her free will. So in love with that man too.

Slowly, he closes the two folders in front of him and picks them up, wondering what to do. There are many days when he wishes this job came with a manual. Or at least a good scriptwriter. He stares at the tags on the folders. 462753 & 318742. Kara Thrace and Lee Adama. There's something almost heart-warming about the way these two keep managing to make their way back to each other. If he wasn't such a cynic after thousands of years of existence, he might even believe they were actually destined to be together.

He decides he's feeling very beneficent today. Opening one of the dead case file drawers, he takes the folders and shoves them in toward the back. It won't be for eternity, but they should have a good life together before anyone finds their paperwork again and decides to recall them. He figures maybe they've earned it. After all, they were fairly instrumental in not wiping out humanity completely. The cylons would be even more preachy and unsufferable then. And those humans amuse with their silly dramas.

The desk and the chair vanish, and his form shimmers, taking on another shape and dimension. The supreme being had realized over the years that it's best to approach its subjects in a form they recognize. Surveying the now empty landscape, the creator smiles. It doesn't expect to see its best angel of death back here for a very long time.

God is surprised to realize it's a little glad about that.

######

Lee is hallucinating. It's been almost two weeks since he struck out for the mountains with little thought to some of the bitter realities of living in the wild. He had camped once in a while as a teenager, but this was a whole new world. He was dirty and aching, his skin burned from the constant sun after too many years under the low lights of a spaceship. And he was hungry all the time. His skills with a knife and slingshot aren't quite honed enough to procure him dinner most nights, so he often has to resort to taking meager bites from the algae rations he took with him.

But more than any of that he feels lonely. The earth is stunning and vast and though he loves discovering new and unfamiliar animals and plants, the novelty wore off with no one with which to share his finds. He talks to himself often now. A constant stream of chatter, entire conversations held in his head with his father, his brother, and of course, his constant companion, Kara.

He had tried not to think of her the first few days. It was too painful. He wonders how he'd managed to delude himself from the obvious for so long. He saw her viper explode, saw it with his own two eyes. Lee marvels now that he was just so conditioned to expecting miracles from Kara that he dismissed his own common sense. Then again, he'd never used much common sense when it came to Kara Thrace.

The days are long and the nights are longer. He thinks frequently about heading back, trying to find the Agathons or his father. But something stops him from actually going through with it every time. Maybe it's pride. Or maybe it's frakking destiny, he thinks bitterly. He is destined to be alone.

Well almost alone. The first morning after Kara's disappearing act he awoke to a slight pressure on his chest. He thought at the time that it was simply the continuation of a rather delicious dream he'd been having, but his eyes had flickered open involuntarily to find a set of beady eyes staring at him. Lee froze, careful not to incite the animal, when he realized it was simply a pigeon. The damned thing was staring at him, head cocked, little clawed feet digging into his chest. He'd exhaled, unsure how to get the thing to leave, but the motion of his chest rising startled it and it flapped away, coming to a perch on a low branch of a nearby tree. Unsettled, Lee rose, splashed water on himself in a rudimentary cleaning ritual, and dressed quickly. The bird's eyes never left him and when Lee packed up and headed out on his great journey that day the pigeon went with him.

She—because Lee was somehow sure it was a female—has followed him ever since. Though he was unsettled by its constant vigilance at first, he soon became accustomed to it, even welcoming the bird's presence. At least he wasn't completely alone. At night, when he feels the most bereft, he can almost imagine the bird is some sort of gift, a magical talisman of sorts sent to guard and guide him. He begins to associate the bird with Kara in his mind and it comforts him.

Of course, what really reminded him of Kara was the way the bird keeps managing to lead him into trouble. Just a few days after its arrival the pigeon had flown into a thorn-laden bush and squawked pitifully until Lee had climbed in to free her. The scratches on his arms and legs had burned and itched for days.

And now here he is again. Lee is halfway up a tree, halfway up the side of a mountain. The bird is on the branch above him, but the problem is below him. A mountain lion is pawing the base of the tree, his massive bulk jolting the thick trunk and causing Lee to cling tightly to the branch he is perched upon. He hunches over carefully, pulling off his boot and throwing it at the animal. The lion roars and jumps higher, striking the tree and making it shudder again. The bird twitters nervously above him and Lee wonders how long his exhausted limbs will hold on. He is not afraid of dying, not now. He might even welcome it.

He takes a last look around, his eyes feasting on the lush greenery of earth. Lee is glad he got to see it. The lion growls again and he looks back down at the animal…just in time to see an arrow come hurtling through the air and strike the beast through the back. The arrow spears through the animal's chest and, with a wounded cry, it falls.

His gaze tracks up from the animal's corpse and is arrested by a figure on a hill nearly half a klik away. His breath catches as his eyes wash over the silhouette that is as familiar to him as his own. Her blonde hair gleams in the sunlight, making a halo around her head as she stands with arms outstretched, a mighty bow in her grip. Lee blinks rapidly, thinking Kara, then, briefly, Artemis. An angel or a goddess? Either way he is transfixed. He is so taken by her that he loses his grip and falls to the ground. His head strikes the hard earth first and the blow clears his mind, blackness taking hold.

The next thing he is aware of is hands cradling his head and someone calling his name. He opens his eyes and she's but a breath away. Her golden hair, perfect lips, sparkling eyes. His eternal fantasy made flesh once more. Lee is sure he's hallucinating and then a more morbid thought takes hold.

"Kara," he breathes out, "Am I dead now?"

Her brow crinkles and those perfect lips twist and she laughs. "NO! No, Lee, you're not dead." Then she does the most amazing thing. She leans down and brushes his lips with hers. Her mouth is warm against his own and he can't believe how real she feels. She pulls back a fraction and looks into his eyes. "I missed you." Her eyes are shining and he thinks she might actually cry. Lee wonders just how hard he hit his head.

His hands, almost of their own volition, reach up to cup her face. She feels solid and strong under his fingers and he's not even embarrassed when a little strangled sob burbles up from his throat. "You're really here." It's not a question but she nods anyway, grinning her crazy Starbuck grin. He hasn't seen it in so long and it's the final piece that clicks into place and convinces him she's back, the real Kara.

Lee jolts up, ignoring his spinning head and he pulls Kara hard into his arms, crushing her tight to him. She squeaks a little and his hands stroke through her hair as he whispers in her ear, "I missed you, too. I missed you too." And for the briefest moment, reality bends around him and he is transported back in time, but then Kara topples forward from her precarious perch kneeling next to him and they fall back to the ground together, a jumble of legs and arms and laughter. He hugs her closer and decides this time he is never letting go. Even if he has to fashion some kind of leash to hold onto her.

Some time later, they untangle themselves and rise, Lee's arms securely anchored around Kara's waist. He knows he shouldn't ask but he has to know. There's a fear still, even though she really is here, that she could be taken again. "So where did you go Kara?"

She smiles enigmatically. "The other side."

Lee is baffled. "But how did you…why did you….they let you come back?"

She snorts. "Not exactly. It's kind of a long story. But let's just say, I decided destiny wasn't all it was cracked up to be." She reaches up and slides her arms around his neck. "I'm a much bigger fan of free will…" her grin blinds him, "…to do things like this." She pulls his head down to hers and crushes her mouth to Lee's. The kiss is passionate and almost violent and so very Starbuck that it takes his breath away. He realizes now that he'd missed her for so much longer than the two weeks since she'd disappeared, this vibrant, amazing girl he'd fallen in love with from the first moment he'd laid eyes on her.

When they finally part to breathe, Lee has questions. Thousands, millions of questions. He doesn't know where to begin though and then he catches sight of the bow on the ground and the silly inconsistency of a weapon on this earth distracts him. "Kara, where did you get that anyway?"

She laughs. "Oh you're gonna love this." Kara runs through a quick demonstration of her poofing technique, materializing a cigar that she tucks into his jacket pocket. Lee watches in amazement, his brow furrowing in consternation.

"Kara, should you be doing that? I mean," his gaze darts involuntarily to the skies, "are they watching and keeping track?"

She shrugs. "Don't know, but I don't think they're too organized." She shakes her head. "You wouldn't believe who they've got running things up there."

Lee is not really listening though, he's thinking too hard and the fear is starting to take hold again. "So we should just enjoy it while it lasts, huh?" He can't keep a trace of bitterness from his voice. "Because it might be taken away tomorrow and there's nothing we can do about it."

Kara frowns at him. "Hey," she leans forward, pressing her forehead to his, "Hey, listen to me, I'm not going anywhere, okay? I'm not." She says it to comfort him and because she is determined to make it true, but as she speaks the words, Kara realizes she knows them to be true. She's not sure how or why, but she can feel it deep inside. She figures it means God has gotten bored with them again and turned his attention to his other chess pieces. Kara smirks at the fact that having a moron in charge of all creation should make her so happy.

But Lee is trembling slightly under her hands and she can feel the unhappiness coming off him in waves. She pulls back to lock eyes with him, desperate to make him understand. "I am here and you are here and that's all that matters, remember?" She smiles at him. "I love you, Lee Adama, and I will shout it to the skies if you want, but I'm not going anywhere this time. This is it for me." As she says it, Kara recognizes the truth in this too. She feels whole and permanent and altogether here in a way she hasn't ever felt before. There are no more missing parts.

She holds Lee's face in her hands and looks deep into his eyes. "I am with you for the rest of our lives. And our afterlives."

He can see it in her eyes, the seriousness and the determination and the love too. Kara means it, she believes it. And when she believes, he believes. Lee feels the last bit of apprehension fade away and he grins, feeling lighter and freer and happier than he has in longer than he can remember. He can almost joke about it now. "No takebacks?"

Kara shakes her head, eyes still wide and solemn on his. "No takebacks."

She hugs him to her again, and Lee hears her breath sigh out as she softens in his arms. It feels familiar, and memories of so many other reunions flood his brain. The last bit of loneliness washes away. This, he realizes, is all the home he'll ever need.

He kisses her again, quickly but gently, simply because he can. She grins at him and unfolds herself from around him, taking his hand and reaching down to the ground for her bow.

"So where is everyone else?" Kara asks. "I mean I know your dad left, but Helo and Sharon and Hera…where are they?"

Lee had forgotten Kara hadn't been privy to that conversation and there hadn't been time to fill her in. Sheepishly he now fills her in on the decision to separate the colonists and settle different areas of the land peacefully with the indigenous people.

"Wait, you decided to split up completely? With no idea how to live off the land and no supplies and no guns?" She snorted. "Whose bright frakking idea was that?"

Lee blushes.

"Oh. Really?" She raises an eyebrow and sighs in mock dismay, her hand gesturing to the mountain lion corpse on the ground. "It's a wonder you survived a day without me, Lee Adama."

"Good thing for me, you deigned to return just in time to save my ass again, huh?" He smirks at her.

Kara smirks right back, "It's kind of what I do. Maybe you could call it my destiny."

"I thought we decided destiny is overrated."

"Oh, that's right." She leans into him, eyes dancing, fingers tapping his chest. "Guess you'll just have to find some cute cavewoman with a bone through her nose to protect you then."

He shakes his head and just tightens his arms around her and kisses her again, long and slow and thorough this time. Lee thinks about spending the rest of his life coming up with different ways to kiss Kara and his heart suddenly feels too large to fit inside his chest.

She breaks away first, her hand rubbing over his lightly bearded jaw. "Ouch. Is it too much to hope you held on to some basic grooming products?"

Lee's lips twitch and he can't resist. "You have a problem with my hygiene?"

She purses her lips and plants an elbow in his gut. "For that, you are going to let me shave you later." She grins wickedly and his heart beats faster.

"I didn't pack a razor."

"That's ok," she holds out her hand and blinks and a familiar small folded knife appears on her palm. "I have one."

He is about to speak, when Kara's eyes focus on something over his shoulder and she tenses. He whirls, expecting another lion or other animal, and is shocked when something goes whistling past his ear. It's the knife and it hits the pigeon in the chest, killing it and knocking it to the ground.

Lee's aghast for a moment. "Kara! What the frak?"

She is already stalking to the small corpse, picking it up. "Dinner." She answers nonchalantly. In shock, Lee just stares at her.

She spares him a glance and sees his dumbfounded expression. "What? We can't eat the mountain lion. It's too big to deal with." Lee doesn't answer, just stares at his constant companion impaled on Kara's knife.

Kara takes in his obvious distress with confusion. "It's a rat with wings, Lee! And it's been staring at me with those beady frakking eyes since I got here." She scowls for a moment, then brightens, punching his arm lightly. "Besides, I bet it tastes just like chicken."

Lee looks at her, standing alive and whole before him, and then back at the dead pigeon. He starts laughing, long and loud and like he might never stop. Kara rolls her eyes, and he wonders how he ever could have found comfort in hoping some flying rodent was the spiritual equivalent of this amazing woman. When he finally straightens up, he takes her hand (the left one, since the right one is still holding the impaled bird like a weird little flag), and heads them back in the direction of his campsite.

Kara is quiet as they walk and Lee looks at her and thinks about the rest of his life and bright shiny futures. For the first time, such thoughts seem very uncomplicated.

"Guess it's really just you and me now."

She turns to him, tightening her fingers around his own. "It always was, Lee." Her smile is brighter than the sun. "It always was."

--fin--