Word Count: 3,026
Pairing/Focus: Lee, Kara
Secrets... everyone has them... you know those little things you just don't share with anyone... not even your best friend. Some secrets are dark... lurking... haunting your dreams; too frightening to burden upon others… Some are happy moments that you keep for yourself to reflect upon when all hope seems lost. Secrets can be small and simple... or deep and complex. I've been the keeper of many secrets in my life, but now two in particular weigh heavy on my soul.
One secret I have kept for over eighteen months. A secret that could devastate a near lifelong friend… shared knowledge of a secret kept by another for near thirty seven years… At first this had been a secret I could talk to the Old Man about when it weighed me down, at least up until seven months ago when I was entrusted with another secret which intertwined with the burden I already carried...
Like all secrets do... these must eventually come to the surface. In this case that time was fast approaching... It has been a long and arduous struggle to keep this secret as long as I have; but when I woke this morning I knew that the time had come... I had to talk to someone. This is why I now find myself standing outside the makeshift chapel… It is 0500 and the ship is starting to come to life. I quickly slip inside before anyone can see me... the heavy sweater I have worn for the past four or so months barely hides it anymore...
Crossing to the back of the chapel, I make my way to a near hidden door. Mother Elosha's private quarters... I hate to wake her... she has worked as hard as any of us since this war began... but she is the only one I can talk to right now.... I know it is only a matter of time, says, maybe hours until everything is out in the open. I am scared... for the first time in my life I am truly terrified. I feel so helpless and yet I know I should be happy... I tap lightly on the door and within moments it swings open and I am met with gentle, understanding eyes. With a wave of her hand she motions me inside. It’s in her eyes... She knows at least one of me secrets... There is a smile in those eyes as she takes my hand, resting her other hand on the small of my back as she helps me sit down in a comfortable overstuffed chair. She must have read the panic in my eyes... she smiles softly, kneeling down on the floor and placing both hands on my belly. "Start at the beginning..." she says in a soft, soothing voice.
The beginning..? How far back was that? Seven months ago when I first realized? Eighteen months ago? Or all the way back… nearly three years when my world was ripped out from under me the first time? I could keep going back… but I soon decide that it is best to start eighteen months ago… “Alright… the beginning” I say, taking a shaky breath.
“It was eighteen months ago… I had been on board the Galactica for a little over a year. It had taken me nearly that long to begin to feel comfortable with my new crewmates. I had spent so long at the academy that I had forgotten what communal living was like on a Battlestar. I was a wreck when I arrived, but many hours spent talking with the Old Man had helped and I had finally allowed myself to consider the possibility of dating again. Zak was gone, and no amount of self imposed solitude on my part would bring him back.
I had been assigned to the honor guard and as such it was part of my duty to greet the pilots who were transferring in from the Triton. Among these pilots was one James Braeden... call sign Renegade. It took me by surprise... it was almost like looking at a ghost from the past, except that he was older... It was the eyes that gave him away... those damn eyes. They all had them. Zak, Lee, even the Old Man.... those devastating blue eyes that bore through to your very soul... Adama eyes… Except… he wasn't an Adama.
For the next week those eyes haunted me… well, it was more than the eyes. He looked so much like Zak… enough that they could pass for brothers. Not just in looks mind you… but in personality as well. James was the same joker that Zak had been… and it was only a matter of days before he found that he took great pleasure in getting me riled up enough to fight, then he would smile… and he looked just like Zak. James was older though… older than Lee by four years. Something just didn’t add up… and it was keeping me awake at night. I found myself wandering the halls in the middle of third shift one night. The corridors were near empty, which was pretty much normal for that hour, though you wouldn’t know it now.
That’s when I saw them… they were at the end of the corridor, face to face… I hung back, not wanting to intrude on what appeared to be one very intense discussion. Then, without hesitation, Commander Adama pulled Lieutenant Braeden in an enormous bear hug. That was when he must have spotted me, because he motioned for me to come down the corridor. I could see the tears that stained both men’s cheeks, and it was then that I was drawn into the secret Commander Adama had kept for thirty seven years. He had a third son.
The three of us sat up until the early morning hours as Commander Adama told of the hardest secret he had kept. Four years before Lee was born, nearly two years before he and Iilya had been married, they had a child… their families had forced them to give the child up… it had seemed the sensible decision at the time… and they hadn’t argued…
The decision had been devastating for Iilya and they agreed that they would forget… not look back… which was why they never told their younger sons… I realize now how that must have pained him, knowing he had another child out there that he couldn’t reach out to… It wasn’t until after Zak died that Adama had begun to ask questions… Lee had pushed him away… his youngest son was gone… and every search for his oldest had run into a dead end. Then as if the Lords took pity on him… James had turned up here on the Galactica, right under his nose. It had not taken Adama long to recognize his son… but it had taken a week to catch him alone to talk.
It was agreed that night that it was best for all involved that no one else on board should know. It was technically against regulations for a son to serve under his father, and neither was willing to shorten their time unnecessarily. No one else needed to know…
Naturally, James wanted to know all about his brothers… and for him to spend the time with the Old Man would have soon aroused suspicion… and so the task fell on me. I quickly came to enjoy his company. Within the first month he was flying as my wingman and we could be found in one another’s company at any given time of the day or night… How I felt about him was no secret to the other pilots… however… for reasons still unknown, we kept how close we had become from the Old Man… it was simply… easier.
Two months later, the word came that the Galactica was to be decommissioned and the squadron was to be shipped out and split apart. We had three more months. The first two months passed and little changed, but as the final month approached… we began to drift apart, or more truthfully we pushed one another away. The chances of us having the same posting, and the same freedom we had now were… astronomical. So rather than go through the heartbreak of being ripped apart, we chose to go our separate ways. It was hard… but in the end we were still friends… but we kept our distance. I even went as far as getting myself thrown in the brig so I would not have to say goodbye when he flew out with the ill fated Last Galactica Squadron… A squadron I should have been part of.
None of us could have ever prepared for the events that followed the decommissioning ceremony… How can anyone prepare for the end of the known world, and the beginning of life on the run? I still can’t remember most of those early days. It was a blur… more hours spend in the cockpit of a viper than out… a constant struggle to survive… not just for us, but for the near 50,000 souls we were entrusted to protect. We fought as best we could with what little we had… I faced some of the most terrifying moments I can ever recall… the first time I engaged a true enemy... not just a simulation… seeing vipers explode around me and knowing it was real… not knowing who would make it back or not… Being shot down, crash landing and living to tell about it… an event that nearly cost me my flight status permanently. I still have a noticeable limp when I’m tired and I’ve had to give up running.
It was not long after that I realized something was different… I’m still not sure how it was missed when they cleared me for flight status after my injury, but I wasn’t going to argue it. I shall assume that the medical staff were as tired as the rest of us and things were overlooked. In any event, I was back in the cockpit. It’s truly where I love to be. It’s not just that though… I was raised to be a warrior from the time I was a child… there were people out there that needed to be protected… the last of our race… and they needed every pilot they had out there to do it. And so I kept my secret…
The first two months it was easy… there was nothing to hide. But as I approached the five month mark, about three months after I had first realized… it got a little more difficult. Thankfully laundry is always a mass of chaos and confusion, so it was easy to swap things when needed… I also managed to acquire for myself an oversized sweater, which I began to wear whenever possible… a deception aided by the fact that temperatures had been lowered to conserve tylium. Many were wearing similar sweaters even over duty uniforms. The fact that I was athletically inclined helped as well… kept everything tucked away as much as physically possible… any noticeable weight gain was simply brushed off as a result of my no longer being able to go for long morning runs. It all fell so perfectly into place… Until today that is.
When I woke early this morning, something was different… everything had shifted and I was quite noticeably bigger than I had been the night before. Even the sweater that had hidden my secret for so long was now stretched tight.”
As I have been telling my tale, Elosha knelt on the ground, her hands on my belly, waiting patiently as I stopped frequently to catch my breath. My back was aching… like nothing I had ever felt before, to the point of taking my breath away. When I finished my tale, I had intended to get up and leave… then figure out how to deal with things as I always do… But Elosha insisted I stay, telling me to save my strength for later… I nodded, agreeing to stay for a little while.
Truth be told I felt safe there… and I was feeling a little tired… She gave me a hot cup of herbal tea… and it seemed to make everything alright… it felt good to share the burden of the secrets I carried. Although... I knew she had work to tend to… we all did… I once again decided it was time to leave and went to stand up…
I had no sooner gotten to my feet when it happened… there was a strange sensation… a definite feeling of something bursting open, relieving some of the pressure I had felt on my back… though I was mortified by the sensation of the warm fluid pouring down, forming a puddle at my feet. Elosha however, simply smiled and coaxed me to sit back down… before I could say a word, the first of the true pains hit… taking my breath away. Any discomfort I had felt before was quickly forgotten as I felt my belly tighten into a vise-like grip that seemed to last an eternity. As it passed, I leaned against the back of the chair to catch my breath… “Oh Gods…” where the only words that formed on my lips.
For the next several hours, Elosha sat at my side, talking to me in a soothing voice… offering the occasional sips of water or herbal tea just when I needed it the most. I don’t remember her calling anyone, but at some point, as she knelt on the ground, holding my hands through a particularly rough moment, I could feel strong hands against my lower back, and a familiar voice echoed in my ear “You can do this Kara…” it was a voice that had talked me through some of the roughest moments in my life; through my first botched landing, when all I wanted to do was punch the first thing in sight; through a particularly bad bout of the flu in my last year at the Academy… through the night spent in shattered tears, when he himself was feeling a loss of a brother… And now he was here by my side once more… ever dependable…
“Lee…” I managed to speak between the pains “I… I’m sorry…. I should have told you…” About everything… I wanted to add… but it wasn’t my place to tell him about James
“It’s ok…” And I could hear in his voice that it was… he didn’t hold it against me… just like he didn’t hold against me all the mistakes I have made in the past. He is my constant…my focal point in the chaos of life… my friend… my… I stop myself from thinking at that point… no… I won’t go down that path again… I close my eyes and focus on the pressure of his hands against my back… the soothing sound of his voice…
How long has passed, I don’t know… but… I do know the past while has been incredibly intense… I vaguely remember the temptation to break something, and snapping at Lee as he tried to comfort me… for the moment all is calm… though I know this is just a reprieve… the hardest part is yet to come… I glance over across the room… Lee is talking to his father… the shocked look on his face is enough to tell me his father has revealed his own secret… There is a look on Lee’s face that is familiar… he is hurt… and yet… with a nod of understanding, he draws the Old man into a strong embrace… I can’t express the relief I feel at that point…
I must have screamed… I don’t remember, but instantly Lee is by my side, his hand clenched tightly by my own as the onslaught starts once more, with a renewed fervor… the cool cloth against the back of my neck feels good, I can’t at the moment comprehend what Lee is saying… I just focus on the sound of his voice… giving over to pure instinct as the final hour approaches.
I don’t remember at what point I moved from the chair to the floor, Lee is behind me… someone for me to lean on… my support… his voice is soothing in my ear.. I focus on his voice… not the pain… just the voice…. the soothing words… “Almost there Kara… almost there…” and I know he’s right… I can hear the footsteps pacing the floor behind us… I know it’s the Old Man… I recognize the sound of his boot-falls on the metal floor.
It seems hours pass before I hear those words I want so desperately to believe… “Just one more push…” I hear Elosha say, and I know its close now… so I push the best I can… so tired, I just want to sleep… but I give it everything I’ve got… Gods.. the pain in unbearable… then the burning… … and she tells me to stop… I try… fighting against the instinct to push… and then the sensation passes, an overwhelming sense of relief coursing through me. That’s when I hear the first shaky, strangled cry, which turns quickly into a strong, health bellow. I hear Elosha announce with no small amount of pride and relief. “It’s a girl….”
I can feel the tears sting my eyes as the tiny bundle, is placed in my arms, tenderly wrapped in one of the priestess’ scarves… “She’s beautiful, Kara…” I hear Lee say, I can hear the emotion in his voice, and yet it still takes me by surprise when I feel the faintest brush of a kiss against my cheek… As I sit there some time later, still holding the now sleeping infant, and still leaning against Lee…. I am so lost in the moment that I don’t immediately notice that both the Old Man and the priestess have left. And as I sit there, cradling this new life in my arms, and being cradled myself… I can’t help but wonder at the old saying… third time is a charm….