Title: We Used to Wait.
Summary: If a higher power isn't leading the Colonials to Earth, do they have any hope of finding it?
Timeline: An AU starting at the end of Season 2, where Lee Adama isn't in command of Pegasus during New Caprica.
Spoilers: For all seasons.
Notes: This story is my attempt to rework the end of the series without the heavy religious focus. I loved the series as it was, but over time began to wonder how else the story could have ended. Many flashbacks will be featured throughout the duration of the story, as I hope to give the readers a better understanding of certain events. This is a very Kara-centric fic, but I do consider it an ensemble cast story. It will also feature all canon pairings in some way, with a focus towards Kara/Lee.
Caprica: Before the Fall
The bar was crowded for the middle of the week, with every seat at the counter occupied. A young couple midway down, a pair of academy cadets by the look of them, shared a stool in their solution to the problem. While they had rejoiced in their resourcefulness over a round of beer with their friends beside them, their laughs loud and boisterous like the rest of the room, they continued on mostly unaware of the customer beside them.
She was alone, unlike the rest of the people there, and wasn't even looking to take anyone home with her. The couple to her right broke into a fit of laughter again, their pair of arms gesticulating wildly as they both animated the story they seem to be telling as a duo. The noise, the woman could tune out. After everything in her life, sound was actually the easiest thing for her to ignore as she numbed herself into a haze of imagined white noise. What she could not ignore was the elbow that continually nudged at her when a particularly wild part of the story came up. She ignored it the first time she felt the quick plant of pressure on her upper arm and ignored it the second and third time from her haze of ambrosia and cigarette smoke. Ten minutes later and another elbow jabbed at her arm, this one more severe than the previous, and it nearly jarred the glass from her hand as she raised it to her mouth. Her head cocked to the side as she settled the glass down on the mahogany bar top while her other hand stamped out the cigarette in the nearby ashtray. Wisps of her blonde hair fell into her eyes as she readied herself for the lesson she knew she had to teach the lovebirds that were barely out of boot camp. Her mouth was caught in a half sneer as her own elbow raised, poised and ready for the less than friendly jab she was prepared to aim at the boy's kidney in retaliation.
This would not have been the first time she'd been in a fight, in fact it was what she was paid and enlisted to do. If you would argue that she was supposed to only do so for the protection of the colonies and their inhabitants, she would admit to turning a blind eye on occasion. She was on shore leave, the second to last night of a two week break from a brief stint on a battlestar high in orbit around Caprica. Most people looked forward to these chances to revisit their normal lives down below. It was a chance to see friends and family, to eat a meal that didn't taste like reconstituted cardboard, and of course, frak a civilian without worrying over frat regs for once. But for her, the trips that returned her to her normal life were anything but welcome. She usually counted the days until her return to the comfort of enforced routine and knowing exactly what was expected of her. Planet side, she stocked up on cigarettes and alcohol for her return to space and said a hello to what family she had nearby without staying too long. Less than 48 hours until her return, and instead of seeking the comforting arms of a stranger or a long distance lover, she was at a crowded bar far too close to the nearest academy, ready to risk a night in hack over one too many elbow nudges.
Just as she was about to cross that line of no return, a foreign hand settled on her arm, breaking through the aggression that had built in her bloodstream. Her neck craned a little harder, catching a glimpse of the man who found himself with either rather good timing or what she already decided was an extremely irritating habit of interfering where he didn't belong.
"Not even worth it." He spoke with a smug smile on his face, and she chose to hate him already. His head nodded quickly in the direction of the kids she was about to demolish for the sin of having a little too much to drink and not being entirely mindful of their limbs. "Give me a second."
His hand slipped from her elbow where it had remained in the interim. The sudden absence of his touch made her realize that his fingers had delicately lingered longer than was necessary to disarm her. She watched from behind blonde fringe, both curious and agitated with the sudden appearance of the man to her right. He stepped only a few feet away from her, merging himself with the group beside her that had spent the better part of the night revving her up. No more than a few words were exchanged, his expression cycling between a bit of a smile and something more serious, before the group departed even quicker than they came in. Their heads were bowed in what she read as thankfulness to the unknown man.
Her brow furrowed and eyes squinted just slightly as she turned on the stool top more fully, her body sideways as her forearm and elbow rested on the counter. His hand signaled the bartender as he sat down beside her, a glass with a light brown liquid pushed his way without even a word. He must be a regular, she thought, at least regular enough to have the bartender know what he wanted without question. A second hand motion over to her own glass produced a slightly fuller version of what she already had and her vision lingered just for a moment as if trying to understand the intent. Her eyes landed back on him through their continued silence and he sipped at his own drink slowly, eyes focused off on the mirror behind the rows of alcohol lining the back of the bar.
"I didn't ask for a drink." She blurted out finally, words barely making it out from behind clenched teeth as she moved her hand for her original glass.
"Then don't drink it." Though her tone was hostile, his own seemed to be much more lighthearted. That smile was there again, pulling at the corners of his lips as he tried to tamp it down, as if he knew too much mirth was going to get him nowhere with her.
"So what did you say to those frakking kids to get them to leave?" She was curious, though working hard to not let it show as she produced a pack of cigarettes from the front pocket of her duty shirt. She set one between her lips and lit it, the lighter sliding back into the pocket along with the rest of the pack, feeling the return of the familiar weight of it.
One shoulder of his shrugged lazily, his head turning to face her as he spoke. "Even I can tell those kids are rather green, must be their first week at the academy. All you have to do is tell them you've heard some Major is making the rounds tonight at the local bars, trying to catch the cadets in various states of inappropriate behavior. Maybe the older ones don't believe that kind of bullshit, but they're new enough to still be terrified of most officers." He took another sip from his glass, half a mouthful left in the bottom. He eyed it and swirled the glass ever so slightly as the remaining liquid flowed around in a neat circle. A laugh was half emitted and half swallowed down while his head shook as he spoke again. "Really green. They even thanked me for the warning. Kids are getting politer these days, huh?"
His eyes were on hers and the direct contact surprised her, as she knew she had been caught looking. She could have averted her eyes, of course, made an excuse of shaking the ash off her cigarette into the ashtray or taking another sip of her drink, but she held it instead.
"I'm not going to be grateful if that's what you're looking for." Her own swallowed laugh mimicked his own from just moments before. She finally looked away and pulled the cigarette from her lips as she exhaled into the smoke laden room. Her body turned again, this time settling her back to the bar in an attempt to put some distance between herself and the man remaining beside her. "I can take care of myself."
"No doubt you can." He sounded sure of himself as he downed the last of his own drink, the glass creating a thud against the counter. "They just weren't worth it. You'd turn them into pulp in less than a minute. It wouldn't have even been satisfying."
Her lips quirked up in a bit of a stiff smile at his odd form of flattery, though it fit her more than any of the other rare compliments she had received in her life. He hesitated just out of the corner of her eye, pausing a moment to gather up the courage once again before proceeding with what he'd intended to say.
"So, not that I don't think the name Not Grateful suits you, because it does, it really does, but is there something else I can call you?"
She nearly snorted at his words and how nervous they suddenly sounded, conflicting with the smooth talking man of only a moment before. He wasn't a kid, not by any means, but in that moment he was nothing more than a schoolboy. It stilled the hurling insult in her chest for once and her eyes flickered towards her legs crossed at the knee. She twisted again on her stool, towards the ashtray and the pair of cups on the counter top, one empty and one full. The cigarette was nothing but a butt by then and she pressed the remaining embers out into the ceramic ashtray like she'd done half a dozen times from that very seat earlier in the night. Her hand took the second cup, the one that remained untouched since he had the bartender place it there for her. She brought it to her wide lips, sipping it just barely.
He could tell this small detail of information was a concession on her part and he wasn't able to stop his smile from spreading to his entire face. It reached not only his cheekbones, but the shallow creases at the corner of his eyes. He had won a victory that night.