Author's Notes: This was written in response to the prompt "Kara is the one to find Lee floating in space..."
Kara was knee deep in Raiders when she heard a voice on the wireless break through all the others. There were dozens of people talking, mostly her pilots, calling out kill counts and warning others to watch their backs when an enemy approached from behind. Wingmen working together to protect one another. Whoops of excitement as the first basestar exploded and cracked at the center, sending all of its limbs floating in different directions with a heavy helping of debris. The excitement of it, the fact that for once in the entire miserable war they were winning, was intoxicating. Kara wasn't immune to the flood of emotion, although it only temporarily blocked out the fact that with her feet back on the deck of Pegasus, she'd be putting a bullet into Admiral Cain's head.
It had been the thought plaguing her since she was given the order by Adama, her Commander, her leader. She'd have to save the fleet one more time, but unlike all the previous risks, she knew she probably wouldn't make it out in the end. In an instant, that worry passed, ripped from her thoughts and memory to be filled by something far more important. Lee.
Dualla's voice filled Kara's world as faintly as she could hear it. Amidst everything else, there was the staccato beat of the officer's pleas for Apollo to answer, to respond with a location, anything. Kara tensed, and as soon as the Raider ahead of her was blown to bits, she was pulling on the stick, abandoning the mission. The squadron would have to do without its leader, and with the fight nearly over, she knew they would fare just fine. If anyone would have seen her ship, she would have looked like a traitor as she gave up the fight and flew away from the maelstrom of bullets and broken ships, out towards the fringes of the scene.
"SAR Raptor, Starbuck. ETA to the Blackbird?"
"Starbuck, SAR Raptor 459, six minutes."
Kara cursed, slamming her hand into the side of her cockpit as she continued to fly, aimless and without direction. "Need you to forward me the location. And don't you frakking ask a question about it." What she'd do when she got there, Kara didn't know. What she would find there, she didn't know that either. If Lee's beacon had been activated, it meant the worst. His ship had been destroyed or damaged enough to warrant an ejection. All she could hope was that when she found what remained of the stealth ship, there was an entire person attached to that seat, and not merely the pieces of him left.
She followed the call of his emergency beacon, panic rising as each second ticked by and there was no sign of the Blackbird, the man, or the ejection seat. Kara wasn't sure how long it had even been since she'd talked to the SAR Raptor, but it was no matter. She had to keep trying. Compared to the hulking shape of the Raptor, speed was on her side.
Her DRADIS told her she was nearly on top of Lee's location, and she slowed down, only the restraints of her seat keeping her from flying out the window as the Viper came to a dead stop. With the most delicate movements, Kara drew the Viper in at an achingly slow speed, the thrusters at her rear inactive as she guided the ship on the tiny adjustment thrusters positioned at the nose and undercarriage of her bird. And like a gift from the Gods, Lee was right before her, the shimmer of the light of her ship reflecting off the glass of his helmet.
"Lee?" She called, cycling through every channel her Viper could connect to, but there was no response. Her voice grew more desperate as each plea went out. Through his helmet she could see his eyes closed, his body unmoving and limply floating attached to the seat that had formerly been part of the stealth ship he'd flown into battle.
There was no questioning or hesitation when Kara did what came next. It had never been something one had ever trained for in the academy, but like most things Kara did, they weren't ever found in any Colonial Fleet-sanctioned playbook. She shut most of her ship down once it was pulled as close to Lee as possible. This way, there wouldn't be any accidental nudges of the throttle or any other ill-fated maneuvers that spelled the end for both of them.
Her gloved hands reached skyward and she forced the cockpit canopy open, greeting space without any kind of barrier. Fingers went to the back of her helmet, disconnecting it from the tubes that carried extra oxygen, and then to the straps crossed over her body, activating the release mechanism. Warning bells in the system chirped loudly at her in apprehension for whatever she was undertaking in the vacuum of space. Kara ignored them, hardly even hearing the sound, and just as she had been careful not to push Lee off course, she was even more careful not to push away from the Viper with any real kind of force so she didn't launch herself away from the ship. Unlike Lee, she wouldn't have an emergency beacon to help her be found. That would be it.
She kept the toe of her boot hooked through one of the straps that had held her firmly in place only seconds earlier, while she reached towards Lee and the metal frame he was attached to. "Apollo?" Kara called again, grasping at his arms, squeezing, and even shaking him. There was the slightest indication of moisture from breath on the inside of his helmet, and though she couldn't be sure about it, it was a glimmer of hope in the vast desolation. She tugged at the oxygen meter on his arm, face paling at how the indicator line dipped down to the red mark. It reignited her, and while she worked, Kara continued to talk into her headset, hoping it was reaching his ears.
"Kara?" His voice croaked out suddenly, though his eyes didn't open.
"Gotta stay awake, Apollo." There was a tremor in her voice as she ran her hands over the rest of him, a move that with less between them would have been something erotic, but for the time being was her bare bones attempt at checking him for injury. It was then that her finger caught on the hole in his suit, no bigger than the tip of her finger, but large enough to have sucked the life-sustaining O2 out and allowed the cold to seep in.
"I'm sorry, Kara."
"Nothing to be sorry for, not yet. You can make it up to me by staying awake, got it? You don't have to open your eyes, but you can't fall asleep." With one hand on him, she reached for the knife kept buckled to her leg and pulled it out of its sheath. She drew the blade to his shoulder and carefully, but quickly, cut at one side of the harness that held him in, then repeated the cutting motion further down by his waist, trying to get the largest piece of fabric she could. "You still with me?"
"Uh-huh," he replied, barely audible.
"SAR will be here any minute." She reassured both of them as she wound the strap of his seat around his thigh, pulling it as tight as possible and knotting it off at the end. It wouldn't be leak proof, but it would be better than the gaping hole he had previously. "Lee?"
Kara violently slapped the side of his helmet and he groaned quietly. "Stay the frak awake!" She was only vaguely aware of her own lightheadedness as she began to use up the remaining air held within the seals of her suit. It would have to be enough until help arrived. With that thought, Kara pushed her own fear of suffocation away and finally unlocked Lee from his seat completely. "How's it feel for me to be your superior officer now?" She asked, only trying to keep his attention.
"Great," he said with a gasping breath.
"Can't wait to order you around." She pulled him by his flight suit, forcing his body in the direction of her open cockpit, her foot still tangled into part of her seatbelt to anchor them to the floating Viper. With any kind of gravity, such a maneuver would have been near impossible, but the free-floating brought surprising ease to the situation. She directed each of his legs down into the gaps of empty space around the throttle, and while holding him into the seat, she slipped one of his limp arms through the strap she wasn't using to secure herself. Kara reattached the hoses at the back, this time not into her helmet, but into his. The gauge on his arm indicated the fresh flow of oxygen into his suit. She released her hold on the second strap and finally used it to fasten him fully, snapping the belt closed around him. Her fingers gripped tightly into the harness so she didn't float off.
"You're gonna be okay. Just breathe now, all right?"
Kara nearly straddled his lap inside the open cockpit, the glass of her helmet pressed against his as best as could be managed, keeping herself close. There was no reason for it other than the comfort it brought, and as each breath she took became more and more of a struggle, she needed it.
Lee roused slightly beneath her when oxygen was restored to his lungs, blinking slowly awake and taking his first full, deep breath in some time. "What'd you do?" He tried to look around, like it would answer the question for him, but he was held unmoving by the restraints and her body against his.
"Gave you my air."
His eyes went wide as he watched her, faces only inches apart but separated by layers of space-safe glass. "You can't—you'll suffocate."
Kara's eyelids were heavy, lethargic and tired. It took her back to that afternoon in Galactica's onboard gun range when she and Lee had been in a similar situation. "You needed it more." She'd used up most of what little remaining air she'd had in her panic and exertion to keep him safe.
Tears welled in his eyes and spilled forward as he was able to understand what she had done. "Please, Kara…" His hands scrambled at the harness blindly, unable to find purchase on anything with her body so close.
He could recall the hole in his suit, covering it and letting go, and that feeling of acceptance of it all. Meeting his death. Giving up. Giving in. What he never saw coming was that he'd be pulled back at the last minute, and it wouldn't be the SAR bird coming for him. It would be Kara Thrace. He felt stupid for a flash of a moment. Of course, if anyone ever saved him one last time, it would be her. No question about it. But Kara didn't just save him when it was easy or a sure thing, she always came through, even if it meant that she was knocking on death's door in the process. Like she'd driven her Viper into his on the day after the cylons had attacked, risking her own life to bring him home, she'd given herself again for him. He'd wanted to die only minutes before, but with her body held to his, feeling the shallow expansion of her ribcage against his as she fought for each breath, Lee knew that he couldn't. He'd been an idiot to think it. Kara would never let him.
He felt her body weaken, her fists that were curled around the harness loosening as only the most vital of functions received necessary oxygen. In response, Lee wrapped his arms around her. He wouldn't let Kara go, wouldn't let her slacken and end up floating away in space while he be saved.
"You're an idiot," his voice was unsteady, carefully monitoring her as she had done earlier, only this time he was fighting for her instead of the other way around.
She didn't say anything, but he caught the crinkling of her brow, a silent reply that conserved what little O2 she had left.
Lee's tears only worsened. He didn't want to die anymore, but it only mattered if she was there too. If Kara was gone, especially because of him, none of it would matter. "I love you, Kara. Stay with me. Please."
"Can't take it back," she whispered, the smallest of smiles over her lips.
Out of nowhere, the blinding light of the SAR Raptor shone upon them. Help had finally arrived.