Word Count: 13,011
Series: Season 2
Category: Alternate Universe
Pairing/Focus: Kara, Helo
Warnings: none given
Summary: What if Starbuck and Helo's first meeting with the Human Resistance on Caprica ended in blood? What if there was no reason to stay on Caprica any longer than necessary?
Spoilers/Disclaimers: events take place during "Resistance" (though potential spoilers for the entire first half of the second season); They're not mine. I wish they were mine. In some cool alternate universe, they are mine. But, alas, that universe is not the one I'm currently living in. So they're not mine.
Kara Thrace could hear the crisp, clean sound of her father's piano. It echoed in her head as she pulled the Raider out of its jump. It had haunted her so much that she pushed her common sense to the side and took Helo to the apartment she kept in Delphi. She had to hear the music again.
Who knew that they would run into a resistance group that had their heads so far up their asses they couldn't see a good thing when it was pointing a gun in their face?
Kara pushed the memories of what had happened to Helo out of her mind as she focused on piloting the ship the last few miles home. It had taken so long to get here, and it seemed like she had sacrificed so much. At this point, there was only one sure thing in her life, and that was the desperate need to get the object currently nestled against her side back to the Fleet.
With a quick flick of a switch, Kara opened the comm channel. She didn't want a repeat like what happened last time she flew a Raider into Fleet airspace. "Galactica, Starbuck. Requesting permission to land."
As Kara had guessed, it was Dee`s voice that responded to her request. "Acknowledged." She heard the comm cut off and figured Dee was getting confirmation from the Old Man to give her clearance. "Starbuck, you are clear to land in Tunnel C. Galactica Actual has instructed me to tell you that if you do one thing out of the ordinary, you will be shot out of the sky."
Okay. The Old Man was holding a small grudge, she guessed. "Wilco," she said before knocking the comm switch back to its off position.
Kara concentrated on flying the Raider as straight as she could and was pleased to see the CAP remain stationary in the sky above Galactica. A small part of her wondered if Lee was one of the pilots flying up there. She had thought about him a lot while on Caprica, specifically about what had happened between them right before she left. She wanted to apologize to him again.
The Raider touched down in the flight tube, and Kara could feel Galactica raise it up to enter the hangar bay. She knew that the crew was being gentle more to keep the ship from being harmed rather than keeping her from getting hurt. They wanted to study this thing more. It was one of the reasons she demanded Anders help her find a Raider instead of any available ship. She had taken it away from them so it was her duty to brig it back.
Kara disengaged the panel below her and slid out to stand on the hangar bay. She wasn't surprised to straighten up and see a whole pack of people waiting for her. The Old Man was up front and center with Colonel Tigh and a few other officers at his side. She scanned the room and was surprised to see that Lee was not one of them. He must have been flying CAP. The Chief was standing across the hangar bay, talking to his crew. Kara found it odd that he hadn't immediately come over to check out the Raider.
That's when she noticed the deck crew's eyes keep sliding to look not at her but someone over her shoulder. Kara turned to see two Marines had moved up behind her and were now standing ominously next to the Raider. Her attention shifted up onto the catwalk where there were even more Marines training their guns at her.
Kara scanned the rest of the hangar and realized two things were noticeably missing. Number one, no pilots were around to welcome her back, and number two, besides the Chief's whispering before, there was absolutely no movement anywhere in the room. This felt more like a hostage situation than a homecoming.
"So I brought it back in one piece," Kara said nervously. "Sort of." She looked to Adama for some sort of reassurance, but he only continued to stare at her coldly.
After a few excruciating painful moments of self-doubt, Adama finally motioned to the two Marines behind her. "I want Lieutenant Thrace to be escorted to the brig. She will stay there until she can be properly tried for her crimes.'
Kara felt like she had been smacked with a two-by-four. She knew Adama would be angry with her, but she hadn't actually expected him to send her to the brig. At least, she thought he would have explained first. The handcuffs snapped shut, and not sure of what else she could do, Kara let herself be led out of the hangar and into the corridors.
The steady beat of her father's music still rang in her head.
~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~
Kara laid down on the bunk in her cell and stared up at the colorless ceiling. The last time she had been in here, the world had ended. She had cried for the deaths of her Viper squad mates and for Helo who had been flying in the Raptor with them.
It was kind of ironic to feel the tears come again as she mourned the lost of her friend once more.
Finding him on Caprica had given her a hope she did not realize she had lost. Losing him again had almost killed her. All of the sudden she found herself stuck on a deserted, war-torn planet with the people who killed her only friend. That was what had saved her in the end. Knowing this resistance movement had shot down Helo with absolutely no remorse had lit a fire inside of her that had yet to burn out.
It had taken all she had not to kill Samuel Anders for assuming he knew the situation before they could even explain they weren`t Cylons. He had fired first and then asked questions. And he had killed the only friend she had. The only little bit of comfort was knowing that Anders had paid the price for his mistake. As soon as Helo fell, Kara opened fire, wounding over half his men.
Kara tried to push the memories of that day out of her head as she focused on her current situation. She closed her eyes and tried to understand the few clues she had been given so far. The Old Man was clearly hurting. He had stood with the support of a cane in the hangar bay, and he was obviously angry with her considering he had thrown her right into hack.
The situation with Lee was the complete opposite. She hadn't seen or heard from him since landing on Galactica. If he had been flying his rotation on CAP, he would have been finished by now. So either there was something bad going on in the Fleet right now or he was avoiding her.
In addition to Lee, it seemed like every other pilot was avoiding her. That meant that they were all either incredibly angry with her or incredibly ashamed of what she had done to them. She couldn't decide which was worse.
Sighing, Kara accepted that she might be here for a while and willed herself to rest. It had been weeks since she at felt this comfortable. It cemented the fact that even if she was in the brig, as long as it was Galactica she was still home.
The music began to play softly in her mind, and the image of the day her father had wrote the song made her smile. She still couldn't let go of how satisfying it had been to hear her father play again even if it was in her crappy Delphi apartment.
Kara's eyes flew open as she turned to look over at the source of the comment. "What the frak are you doing in the brig, Cally?"
"Thirty days. Discharging a firearm without permission," Cally answered.
Kara sat up in her cot and took in the small girl sitting on her own cot in the cell next door. "Sounds like a trumped-up charge."
"No. I discharged a weapon." Cally shrugged, and the brig filled with silence for a moment. "That song you were humming, Starbuck? It's from Caprica, isn't it?"
"You know the song?"
"I studied contemporary composers when I was in school on Leonis. That song was one of my favorites even though not many people would have heard it. Who was it by? I know it's some obscure composer." The young deckhand groaned. "Gods, I hate it when I can't remember things."
"Miles Thrace," Kara whispered.
"That's right," Cally said, shaking her head in awe. "It's called Enchantment. I can't believe I didn't remember that." The meaning behind Kara's words sunk in, and Cally turned to look at the Viper pilot. "Wait. Was he a relative of yours?"
"He was my father," Kara said. "He wrote the song for me when I was seven in fact."
"No way. How come I never knew your father was a famous musician?"
"Famous is a relative term. He never made much money from his music, and not a lot of people even knew his name."
"It's a shame. His music was the best thing to come out of Caprica during that time." Cally stood up and walked over to rest against the bars dividing their cells. "So tell me what the song was about. I`m dying to know."
Kara thought about refusing at first, but figuring there was nothing else to do while in the brig, she started speaking, "It all started with a nightmare I had."
~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~
"Kara, honey, settle down," Miles Thrace whispered as he sat down on the side of his daughter's bed. "What's wrong?"
"The Cylons were trying to kill me again," Kara whispered. She burrowed down farther into the covers so only her eyes and the top of her head peeked out.
"How many times do I have to tell you? The Cylons are gone, Kara. They're not going to try to kill you." Miles reached down to pick up the teddy bear sitting on the floor beside the bed. He reached out and tucked it in next to his daughter.
Kara immediately kicked the covers off and sat up to protest. Miles wanted to laugh. His daughter was always such a bundle of energy. "Nuh-uh. Mommy said that the Cylons are going to get me if I keep screwing up."
Miles rolled his eyes. This was so fraking typical. "Your mommy doesn't know what she's talking about most of the time, kid."
Kara shook her head. "Mommy said that you were too stupid to know the truth. She said that anyone who couldn`t even sell one song has no power in this house."
Miles had a feeling Kara had just rattled that off verbatim. "What else has your Mommy been telling you?"
"She said that no one's ever going to love me."
"That's ridiculous because I love you very much."
Kara rolled her eyes and let out a exaggerated sigh. "You don't count."
"Mommy was still wrong, though. I know for a fact that there's a handsome prince out there waiting to love you, Kara."
"Really?" The little girl's eyes went wide as she sat up on her feet. "Even after I've been so bad?
"Mommy's been telling you that, hasn`t she?" Kara nodded. "Well, Mommy's wrong. There's a young prince out there waiting for you to show up. And he's going to love you for all the reasons that I love you. Not only that but he's going to love you for all the reasons that Mommy foolishly says are bad."
"When am I going to meet him?"
"When the time is right. You don't want to rush it or it won't happen. Just be a good girl and stay patient. One day when you really need it, he'll swoop in on his white horse and take you away."
"Will he rescue me like in the movies?"
Miles thought it over for a moment before shaking his head. "No. Because you, my dear Kara, are so strong and smart you can rescue yourself from anything."
Kara's mouth erupted in a wide, childish grin of innocence. "I'm going be strong and not let people frak with me."
"Kara Thrace! Where did you learn a word like that?"
"Mommy says it. She calls me a fraking mistake and tells me I frakked up her life all the time."
Miles bit down on his tongue to keep from using a few choice words of his own. "It's not a nice word for a seven-year-old girl to use. I don`t want to hear it coming out of your angelic little mouth again, young lady."
"Okay," Kara whispered.
"Now you need to get some sleep."
Kara nodded, pulling her teddy bear in tight, and stretched her body out underneath the covers. Miles leaned in to brush his lips across her forehead. "Will you sing me a song, Daddy?" she asked, smiling up at him.
"Sure," Miles said with a smile. "I'll sing you a song about a beautiful little princess named Kara who looks up into the stars every night and wishes for love. Little does she know that halfway around the world, there's a young prince wishing on the same star." He tucked her small body into the covers and began to hum a impulsive tune.
~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~
Miles Thrace had left his family for good one year after he created that song for her. But Kara didn't tell Cally that.
Cally had seemed impressed that Kara's father was the somewhat famous musician from Caprica and took to asking questions about Kara's years growing up as the days passed in the brig. Kara did her best to answer them without hinting to the parts of her childhood she wasn't proud of. Under normal circumstances, Kara wouldn't even dream of telling Cally the things she did, but times definitely were not normal.
Life in the brig was killing Kara. Not one person had set foot inside the room besides the Marines charged with guarding them. Her trial had finally been set for the next day, and Kara was trying to stay positive. Even if they decided to take away her wings, at least she would know what was happening in her home.
And what was happening with Lee.
She wished she could say it didn't bother her that he still had not come to see her. But that would be too big of a lie for even Kara Thrace to make convincing. The fact of the matter stood that the person who probably cared for her most out of everyone on this ship was too embarrassed to come see her.
Kara shut her eyes and tried to push away the memory of the last time she had seen Lee. That stupid day had been on her mind every day she had been away and every hour since she had come home. It was like some annoying home movie she couldn't get to stop playing over and over again. It didn't help that her father's song kept up a constant musical track in the background. Kara groaned and flung her small pillow across the cell in frustration.
"Are you all right, Starbuck?"
"I'm fine, Cally" Kara hissed back. "Just thinking about all the things they're keeping from me."
"What do you mean?" Cally asked.
Kara sat up on the cot to look at her through the bars. "They shuffled me right into this cell the second my Raider landed. They didn't tell me one fraking thing about what went on while I was gone. It`s driving me insane."
"Come on! You can't tell me that you haven't been able to pick up on a few things."
"A few things, sure, but definitely not everything. I know the Old Man got shot by a Cylon who you in turn shot. Then, Tigh practically ruined the whole Fleet by declaring martial law. I got back just in time to see him return to his XO position where no more harm could be done. The only other thing I know is President Roslin is on the lam for reasons unknown to me."
"It's because she sent you on that mission without clearing it through the Commander," Cally supplied. "Adama wasn't happy with her."
"Oh great. Let's just add to my sense of guilt."
"You didn't force her to pick you to go on that mission, Starbuck. She would have gotten another pilot if you had refused."
Kara ignored Cally's reassuring words. Her mind was caught up on the one thing she couldn't put together about the situation involving the President. "What I can't understand is how a middle- aged former Secretary of Education got herself off this ship without anyone realizing?"
"Oh, that's easy to explain. She had Apollo with her."
"What?" Kara yelled, springing up to her feet. "I thought he was on Galactica."
"No," Cally said, shaking her head. "I don't know why you would think that. I mean, if he was on Galactica, don't you think he would have been down here to see you by now?"
"Apollo and I aren't on good terms right now," Kara said.
Cally smartly let that comment dropped. She had a feeling that was a road she didn`t want to go down when it came to Starbuck. Instead, she went back to explaining the things that she knew. "That's the reason why we're still in the airspace around Kobol. The Old Man won't abandon his son. It`s kind of strange considering the relationship they have."
"It doesn't surprise me," Kara said without thinking. She looked up to see Cally staring at her with an eyebrow raised. "I've known the Adamas for a long time."
"Got it," Cally insisted, holding up her hands in surrender. She knew better than to fight with Starbuck with the conversation had anything to do with the Old Man, the CAG, or the youngest Adama whom she had heard of way too many times.
Kara opened her mouth to start asking Cally more about the specifics in this twist of events, but the brig hatch slid open before she could start. Racetrack stepped into the brig and paused to hand the Marine a piece of paper. Kara figured it was authorization for her to talk with the prisoners. Galactica had cracked down on security since one of their own turned out to be the enemy.
"Twenty more days, Cally," Racetrack said with a small nod, pausing at the first cell before moving to stand in front of Kara's. "Lieutenant Thrace."
"Racetrack," Kara replied in a monotone voice. "What brings you to my humble abode?"
"All the pilots drew straws and I won." Racetrack glared at her. "Everyone was dying to be able to come in here and tell you what a worthless frak-up you've become, Thrace. You know, we actually admired you for your insanity once. Didn't know it would drive you to betray the Fleet."
"Everything I did was for the good of the Fleet. I didn`t betray you."
"Maybe not, but you sure didn't stay loyal. Galactica could have used you when our ship was lost from the rest of the Fleet. The pilots could have used when the Cylons boarded us and they were physically hacking us to pieces. The Old Man could have used you when a Cylon was firing rounds into his chest. You weren't there, though. Instead of doing your duty, you decided to leave all that behind to go on a religious pilgrimage back to a world that never really accepted you. Ironic, isn't it?"
"What is the point of you being here, Racetrack?"
"I wanted to make it clear that when you get put on trial for your crimes, you should pray that you get stripped of your wings. You do not want to come back to your old life. Things won't be so easy for you now that the reputation of the almighty Starbuck is worth shit."
Kara felt her temper flare and reached out to grab the collar of Racetrack's jacket, yanking her up against the bars. "You better start praying that I don't keep my wings. I don't think you want to know what comments like that could motivate me to do, Lieutenant."
Racetrack grabbed Kara's hand off her jacket and pushed it into a fist. "Maybe you should start practicing. There are going to be a lot of people who want to take a swing at you when this is over." She dropped Kara's hand and chuckled. "My job here is done."
Kara shook her head in disbelief as the Raptor ECO left the brig as abruptly as she came. "Crazy bitch," she muttered, turning to sit down on her cot again.
It took one changing of the guard and a particularly soothing rendition of one of her father's compositions, but after an hour, Cally had finally fallen asleep and the Marine guard had become engrossed in his paperwork. Kara slowly unclenched her fist to look at the small piece of paper Racetrack had thrust into it earlier.
Unfolding it gently so as not to raise suspicion, Kara's heart stopped at the words staring back at her. The message was simple.
"I miss you. Launch Tunnel F. 0400. K59 3L46 HT8. 49° 11' N 123° 10' W."
Kara could feel the tears coming to her eyes, and for once, she didn't try to fight them back. Her hope had slowly been stripped away piece by piece since returning to Galactica. But with three little words, it all came flooding back.
Her fingertips traced the handwriting that was so familiar to her, and she let herself smile through the tears. Lee missed her. She clutched the note to her chest and laid down to face the wall. Figuring out what the frak she was supposed to do with jump coordinates, land coordinates, and a random place and time would have to come later. For now, she just wanted to dwell on those first three words.
The loud resounding thump echoed through the brig, waking both of its occupants. Kara jumped to her feet as she heard the door to her cell slide open. Still half-asleep, she did her best to take in the situation.
A Marine Kara had never seen before was standing over the fallen body of one of his fellow Marines, the one who had been on shift to guard the prisoners. Obviously, this man had already pushed the button to release Kara from her confinement.
"What's going on?"
Cally's groggy voice threw Kara into action. Cally had been the only person to treat her exactly the same as before she left for Caprica. It gave Kara a urge to be protective of the young deckhand. Bracing herself for what would probably turn into a physical confrontation, she took the first step out of her cell. "Who the frak are you?"
"I'm Corporal Venner. President Roslin has asked me to do her a favor."
Kara's mind recalled the note Lee had sent her. "The President wanted you to get me off of Galactica?"
"No. She asked me to, but the young Captain said that all I had to do was open the door to your cell and you could do the rest on your own."
Kara shook her head. Of course Lee would have that much faith in her. "Did that Marine see you before you knocked him out?"
Corporal Venner shook his head. "I don't think so."
"Good. Give me a few minutes, and then pretend like you heard a disturbance. When you came to check it out, you found an empty cell and an unconscious Marine. Make sure you say you have no idea how I did it on my own and that I must have had outside help. If it's your suggestion that someone helped me, it will take some of the suspicion off of you." Kara turned to look at Cally. "You won't say anything, will you?"
Cally smiled. "I'll just tell them I slept right through whatever happened. I woke up when I heard the Corporal open the hatchway to investigate the noise he heard. I didn't even know you were gone until he pointed it out."
"That's a good girl," Kara said with a smile. She walked over to the fallen Marine and drew his gun out of the holster. "Hope I don't have to use this on anyone."
"Good hunting, Starbuck," Cally whispered as the hatchway slid shut behind her. She turned to look at the man standing outside her cell. "So, Corporal Venner, you buy into this whole dying leader/prophet thing?"
~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~
Kara made her way through the corridors of Galactica, ducking into hatchways and out of the way corners whenever someone came into view. She would have to thank Lee for setting this whole thing to go down in the middle of the night. There were a lot less people to duck away from at three in the morning.
She slid into the open hangar bay door and pulled herself behind the first column she could find. The hangar wasn't buzzing with activity like normal, but there were still a few crewmen working on the downed Vipers. She had no idea how she was going to get to the launch tunnel without being seen.
There was a commotion around one of the ships in the hangar, and Kara heard the crew call out for assistance. She figured this was the only opening she would have and began to casually run across the hangar as quick as she could. She was a few steps away when she heard someone yell out for her to stop. Knowing she couldn't just keep going, that doing so would cause even more suspicion, she froze in her tracks.
Kara knew that this was going to end badly. Her hand reached down to rest on where the gun lay in her holster.
"Specialist!" Racetrack's voice echoed through the nearly empty room. As soon as Kara heard it, she took off again. "What the frak do you think you're doing? There are massive repairs that need to be done to this Raptor. We need you."
"I'm sorry, sir. I thought that was Lieutenant Thrace over there."
"What the frak, Jammer? You know as well as I do Lieutenant Thrace is in the brig. Just because you see a blonde with a ponytail does not mean we have a brig break on our hands."
Kara didn't hear Jammer's response as she made her way down the ladder into the launch tube. She didn't think Jammer had turned back in time to see where she went. At least, she hoped he didn't. That kid had too big of a mouth when it came to gossip. Her feet hit the bottom of the tube with a thud as she skipped the last few rungs.
Kara found herself wondering what was going to happen now that she was here. Obviously Lee had put a lot of thought into this escape plan. He even went as far as to make sure Racetrack was in the hangar bay to give her the opportunity to cross it. Her stomach was doing flips of excitement as she considered the next step. She hadn't had this kind of safe excitement in her life in so long.
As her eyes adjusted the darkness of the launch tunnel, her mouth dropped open. Hot Dog was standing in front of her, leaning against the nose of the Viper she had called her own for the past month.
"Hello, sir," he said with a smirk. He patted the ship lightly. "Routine maintenance. I'm supposed to be making sure that it can properly engage the boosting motors in the tunnel."
Kara strolled casually over to where Hot Dog was standing and shook her head. "How the frak did he get to you?"
"He's a damn good CAG," Hot Dog insisted. He held out a flight suit for her to take.
As one hand grabbed the flight suit, the other lingered on the patch fixed to his right arm. "Full-fledged pilot?"
"Nugget no more," he said with a laugh. "You should be going, Starbuck."
Kara unfolded the flight suit and began to slid it on. She paused about halfway to look up at Hot Dog. "So, the pilots? How are you all doing?"
"We're find. It's gotten hard, but we're fine."
She was hesitant to ask her next question, but she knew it might just be better to know the answer than avoid it all together. "Why didn't any of you come down to the brig?"
"The Commander gave the order for us to stay away. He wanted you isolated until your trial."
"Why is he so angry with me?" Kara said, doing her best to get as much information she could without breaking down. Isolating her from everyone she trusted was action fueled by hatred and resentment. She had no idea why Adama, a man she considered like a second father, would do it.
Hot Dog thought about lying to her at first, but eventually he figured it would be better if she just knew. "He's mad because everything started to go downhill from the point you left the Fleet. It spiraled out of control, and you're the easy person to blame. Almost every person has blamed you at one time. But things change, Starbuck. We've all made mistakes in the past few weeks. That's why things have fallen so far. We`re all responsible for it."
"When the frak did you become such a deep thinker, Hot Dog?" Starbuck muttered, shaking her head in disbelief.
"Things got boring around here without you. I had to do something with my time." Hot Dog braced himself. "Now don't hit me too hard."
Kara nodded and drew her fist back to throw the blow.
"Wait!" Hot Dog yelled, holding up his hands around his face.
Kara didn`t lower her hand. "Are you chickening out on me?"
"No. I just forgot to tell you. Billy Keikeya left a present for the President in your cockpit. He told me to tell you to take care of it because it was awfully hard for him to get his hands on. I don't know what that means, but now you know."
"Thanks," Kara said before bringing her fist forward to connect with his chin. Hot Dog went down like a brick, and it was obvious he wasn't getting up.
"Still got it," Kara whispered with a laugh. She grabbed Hot Dog under his arms and dragged him over to the emergency protective hatch they had set up after that particularly nasty accident involving miscommunication and one unlucky maintenance crewman. Once she was sure Hot Dog was safely tucked away, Kara made her way up into the Viper cockpit. When her eyes rested on the cylindrical tube on her chair, she smirked. "Can't get away from that damn Arrow," she quipped with a shake of her head.
Kara powered up her ship and smiled at how good it felt to be back in a Viper. It amazed her how much this intense longing to be in the sky could make her forget the fact that she almost died the last time she flew one of these things.
The smile wiped off her face as she looked around and realized the launch tube was sealed shut in front of her. Immediately, her mind went to Lee. He had made so many arrangements just to get her out of the brig and to wherever those coordinates took her. He couldn't have forgotten something so simple as getting the tube open.
"What would Lee have done?" she muttered to herself.
When the answer finally came to her mind, she found doubts rising up in her mind. If she was wrong, then this would frak up everything that had had been put into place. Kara was never one to let fear get the better of her.
Tapping the comm channel on, she whispered a quick prayer to the Lords of Kobol before tentatively asking, "Dee? Are you out there?"
There was no answer, but the launch tube groaned as it slid open. Kara let out the breath she had been holding in and powered her Viper up the rest of the way. The boosters kicked in and her body was sucked back against the cockpit chair as gravity and the forces of space took hold.
Kara visualized the jump coordinates Lee had given her on that note. Her first reaction had been to wonder what the frak Lee thought she could do with jump coordinates. If she hadn't taken the time to analyze the coordinates, she would have been quite frustrated upon seeing the FTL-incapable Viper waiting for her.
But luckily she had analyzed the coordinates and she did realize where Lee was leading her to.
It would take her at least ten hours to get there by Viper, but Kara was on her way to Kobol.
~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~
Kara landed her Viper on the exact longitudinal and latitudinal cross point that Lee had given her. It was a mountain slope that looked as if a mud slide had torn it apart seconds earlier. The mud took hold of her Viper immediately and made her wonder if she would ever be able to get it into the air again.
Pushing the canopy up, Kara undid the collar and slid the helmet off her head. She let out a small sigh, slung the Arrow's container over her shoulder, and jumped down to the ground. Her feet sunk into the ground upon impact, and Kara's mouth turned up in a look of disgust. Her hands reached up without thought to push her sweat- soaked hair out of her face as she scanned the area.
"Looking for someone?"
Kara twisted to look at the man leaning against her Viper. She had no idea how Lee had snuck up on her like that. Maybe she had been focusing on the mud too much. "Yeah, actually, I am."
They stood staring at one another for a few moments before both launching themselves into the other's arms at the exact same time.
"Gods. Why the frak did you do something so stupid?" Lee whispered in her ear as his arms tightened around her body.
He didn`t have to explain what he meant. Kara already knew. "It's in my nature," she said with a laugh.
Lee turned his head to place a kiss on the top of her head as he ran his hands down her back. "You know, before I decide to follow your bad example and leave the Fleet, I had had plans to convince my father and Tigh to let me out of the brig so I could be the Viper to greet you and escort you back to Galactica."
"Why would you want to do that?"
She felt him let out a deep breath before answering. "To tell you I was stupid for not letting you know I was sorry, too. It's the fraking end of the world, and I still can't get control of my pride." Lee rested his chin on the top of her head. "You know I had some crazy notion of being your knight in shining armor, showing up on my white horse to tell you that everything was going to be okay now that you were back."
Kara's mind immediately focused on the words he had chosen. She couldn't help but remember that talk she had had with her father when she was seven and the prince riding in on his white horse to save her. After all, the music to that little fairytale had been playing her mind since Caprica.
Almost but not quite, Dad, she mused.
"I wanted to be there for you when you needed me," Lee whispered, still holding on to her as tight as he could.
"Glad to see some things don't change," Kara said, chuckling. "You're still way too tough on yourself. You aren't obligated to be my hero all the time, Lee."
"Maybe I want to," he protested.
Kara wasn't sure why, but that notion made her uncomfortable. Her mind was screaming at her to change the subject now. "All that pain between us was for a good purpose, though."
"Really?" he said, slightly taken aback.
"It hurt like hell at the time," she explaining, reaching back to grab the container off her shoulder, "but I got it."
Lee shook his head and smirked, pulling her back in close. "I don't even want to know how you found the time to pick that up while you were following my instructions to breakout."
Kara's face lit up in confusion. "I didn't. Billy left it for me in my Viper. I assumed that you had him do it."
"I didn't," Lee said, mirroring her confusion.
Her mind fell on the one other person capable of helping Billy get a hold of the Arrow. "Do you think the Old Man.?"
"He couldn't have," Lee insisted.
They both retreated into their own thoughts as they stared at the valley below them, securely wrapped up in each others arms. Kara felt the need to cling to the notion that Commander Adama had known what was going on in his ship, even going as far as to lend a helping hand. Because if that was true, he really wasn't as angry or ashamed as she feared he would be.
"Lieutenant Thrace." Kara turned around to look at the President as she walked the last few steps towards them. "I'm glad to see you're making yourself at home."
Kara's face went red as she realized what she and Lee looked like to an outsider. She pulled herself a few steps away from him and smiled at the President. "Sorry it took me so long to get here, Madam President."
"I can sympathize at how hard the brig is to break out," Roslin quipped. "It seems like Captain Apollo is developing a talent for it, though."
"I always knew I was missing my calling when I enrolled in the Academy. I should have stuck with the life of crime."
Kara shook her head at him. It was ridiculous that Lee could joke at a time like this. They were all refugees stuck on a planet that demanded blood from those that set foot on it. "Is it just the two of you here?"
She watched Roslin and Lee exchange a look before Roslin began to explain. "Priestess Elosha came down onto the surface with us."
"She didn't make it," Lee cut in. The look on his face told Kara to drop the topic, which she did. Besides, she was pretty sure he would explain it in more detail to her if she asked later when they were alone.
Roslin's eyes feel upon the container in Kara's hand. "Is that it?"
Kara nodded and held it out for the President to take. "It was exactly where we thought it would be."
"And you didn't have much trouble?"
Kara's face went pale as her thoughts turned to Helo. The guild hit her deep inside as she realized she hadn't thought about his death in days. It had slipped away in the excitement of finally being out of the brig.
"We need to take shelter," Lee said, breaking the silence. "It's going to start pouring again as the sun goes down. We can talk about what happened to all three of us in the morning."
Roslin nodded in agreement and started up the hill, presumably towards their camp.
"What about my Viper?" Kara asked, glancing over her shoulder at the ship.
"There aren't many ship thieves on Kobol right now so you should be fine," Lee called over his shoulder. He had already started following the President.
Kara narrowed her eyes at the back of his head for a moment before letting out a laugh and following behind. She had missed this.
~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~
The sun had disappeared from view and Kara's head was pounding by the time she finished debriefing the President. She had gone through every single detail of what Caprica was like and why she had been in such a hurry to get home. Roslin had been intrigued with the presence of a resistance force against the Cylons. Kara had tried her best not to let her bias come in while talking about this groups. However, when Roslin asked her if she thought a retrieval mission was in order, Kara couldn't help but say no. The Resistance had made their bed when Helo had died. They should be forced to lie in it.
The worst part had been telling Roslin about finding Helo and then losing him again. Kara explained how she had never received an apology from anyone in the Resistance for what they did. Anders even went as far as to say it was all part of survival. The President obviously picked up on how important Helo had been to Kara, but they both knew there was no way she could really understand.
Helo had been Kara's first and only ally when she started on Galactica. She had been the hotheaded newbie pilot who didn't take crap from anyone even if they were a superior officer. He had been the Raptor pilot who had a joke for every situation. When push came to shove, Karl Agathon was the one that kept Kara Thrace out of trouble and gave her a chance to be the legendary pilot she was destined to be.
Sighing, Kara walked the few feet from tent to tent as the rain poured down on her. Helo was just another friend who hadn't made it. She needed to accept that and move on. There wasn't time to dwell. He wouldn't want to her to, anyway.
Kara pushed back the entrance flap to the tent and was about to step in when she realized it wasn't empty. "What are you doing in here, Lee?"
Lee propped himself up with his elbows and gave her a smile. "Did you think I was going to give up my tent for a screw-up like you?"
"We don't have a lot of supplies," Lee explained. He laid back down and closed his eyes. "It was either my tent or President Roslin's. I figured you would rather cuddle up next to me."
"I wouldn't cuddle with you if you were the last man on Earth," Kara informed him as she stepped inside the tent and shrugged out of her flight suit.
"I'm the last man on Kobol," he said with a laugh. "Doesn't that earn me something?"
"Yeah. I won't kill you in your sleep in case you`re needed for repopulation purposes." Kara threw the flight suit against the tent wall before sitting down on the ground by the entrance flaps.
"Ha ha. Very funny."
As the tent filled backup with silence, Kara peeked out the small open to watch the rain falling down on their little tent. It had been so long since she saw any rain. It almost made the fact that she was freezing acceptable in her mind. She turned back to look at Lee as he lay on the small tarp serving as a floor covering. He had his left arm covering his face and was obviously doing his best to fall asleep. He looked almost natural in this environment.
No, she corrected. He was beyond that. The way he had spoken to her when she landed, the way he had just accepted the information she had given the President, it all pointed back to the simple fact that Lee seemed to believe in what he was doing. She continued to stare at him as that thought settled in her mind.
It didn't surprise her when seconds later, Lee shifted his arm to reveal that he hadn't been trying to sleep at all. His eyes were wide open as they moved to rest on her.
"Go ahead and ask," Kara said with a sigh. She drew her legs in close and tucked her chin on top of them.
"About your father," Kara continued, giving him a small smile. "He seemed just fine, Lee. I don't think the bullets did any permanent damage."
"You barely saw him, Kara," Lee pointed out.
"I managed to pull some information from the Marines from time to time. Once Cally told me what had happened that day, I had to know for myself that he was going to be all right. I couldn't forgive myself if he had died."
Lee scrunched up his face in confusion. "You couldn't forgive yourself?"
"I should have been there."
"And I should not have been handcuffed for treason. We all have should haves. It doesn't change anything. If Boomer hadn't have shot my father at that moment, she would have done it at another time, and then it might not have ended so well."
"I still feel guilty," Kara whispered. Her eyes were brimming with tears.
"Don't start with me, Lee. I'm tired."
"Fine. I won't say another word."
Kara watched Lee take a deep breath before sitting up and reaching out to pull her hands from where they wrapped around her legs. He moved her the few feet to where he was and drew her down to lay against the tarp with her back facing him. Without a word, Lee slid his arm around her waist and pull her against him. His breath tickled the back of her neck, and Kara felt her mouth turn up in a smile.
"So you missed me, huh?"
Lee chuckled lightly.
"That's what the note said. `I miss you'."
"I got used to the extra burden of having to deal with your mischief. It was disturbing to actually have time to relax."
Kara shifted in Lee's arms to face him. "Don't."
"Don't try to be all cute and clever."
"Okay," Lee said. "What should I be then?"
"I don't understand."
"I'm tired of dancing around the subject. We have problems."
"That's stating the obvious."
"The last time we saw each other, I apologized and you walked away from me. Before that, you and I ended up decking each other because you think I'm a worthless slut."
"I never said that," Lee objected.
Kara snorted. "You certainly implied it."
"I never once called you worthless."
She raised her eyebrows in shock. Had he really just admitted that? His face hadn't changed into surprise or embarrassment so she figured she would have to ask. "But the slut part you think was spot on?"
"It was a mistake. I said it in the moment, but it was never what I really thought. For gods' sake, you were going to be a part of my family, Kara. I never once objected to you marrying Zak."
"You never once gave your consent either," she whispered, the acknowledgement tearing at a wound she had thought was closed long ago.
Lee sighed. "That was for other reasons. It had nothing to do with you."
"What did it have to do with?"
Lee shook his head in a refusal to answer.
"Fine. We can move on back to the original problem then." Kara nestled her head into the crook of his arm. "I'm going to apologize for screwing up again. I wasn't thinking that night." She paused. "Or maybe I was thinking too much. Either way I wish I hadn't done it."
"Your irrational guilt is taking over again. You had every right to do what you did. Granted, the Vice President might not have been the wisest choice of bed companion, but it wasn't against some rule."
"Like if I had chosen another pilot?" She could feel Lee stiffen at her words, and they lapsed into silence for a moment.
"There was no need for you to apologize the first time, and there was no reason for why I walked away from you. I had no right to think I had any say in what you choose to do, and I was wrong to let you think that all the anger was coming from your CAG and not from your friend. I've tried to separate the two, but I can't do it anymore, Kara. I can't be your CAG without being your friend, and I can`t pretend like you`re the only one with problems."
"Well," she grumbled, shaking her head. "I have to say you outdid me in the apology department. All I could choke out was `I'm sorry'. You had a speech prepared."
"I had more time than you." Kara opened her mouth to respond but found her fatigue taking over as a yawn erupted. "You've been through a lot. You should rest," Lee suggested.
"And ruin this moment?"
"This moment will keep."
"Haven't you learned anything in the past two months, Lee? The whole world can end in the blink of an eye. You shouldn't put things off."
"We're stuck on the birthplace of the gods for at least another day. We have to hike a few miles to the Tomb of Athena. There will be plenty of time then to talk some more. If I die before then, I think this note is just fine to end on."
Kara gave him a small nod and shut her eyes, hoping that the cold on Kobol didn't get any worse. Lee's body heat was keeping her warm right now, but she wasn't sure if it would be enough. It didn't help that the only other way she could think of to remain warm was not an option right now. With her luck, the President would walk in on them, and Kara had no idea how to explain why the lead pilot thought it was okay to frak the CAG for warmth. The mental image that popped into her mind made her smile.
"What are you humming?" Lee whispered in her ear.
"Huh?" she replied, opening her eyes to look up at him.
"You were humming something there. It sounded so familiar."
Kara was thrown off for a moment before she realized what she had been doing. "It was a song my father wrote for me when I was little."
"I swear I've heard it before."
"It was big on Caprica radio when we were little. It was the only hit my father ever had."
"I can see why. It's beautiful."
"I think in a way you just complimented me," Kara said, poking Lee in the ribs. She was proud to feel him jump at her touch. "My father not only wrote the song for me, but he wrote it about me."
"Oh." Lee smiled down at her. "That explains a lot."
"And what is that supposed to mean?"
Lee stared at her a moment before shutting his eyes. Kara thought he was ignoring her question until he let out a soft sigh and started talking. "It means that I was right to think it was beautiful. The song is a reflection of its muse."
Kara could feel her cheeks heat up at the compliment. She had always been embarrassed when people called her beautiful or commented on how pretty she could be if she only took care of herself better. It happened few and far between, but when it did, it just felt odd. She had spent so many years listening to her mother tell her how worthless and ugly she was that it was hard to believe otherwise. "Lee? Can I ask you something?"
"Anything." He shifted to make them a little more comfortable without opening his eyes to look at her.
"Why are you my friend?"
This made his eyes shoot open. "Where the frak did that come from?"
"It has something to do with my father's song," she said as way of explanation.
Lee stared at her face for a moment before narrowing his eyes. "This is important to you, isn't it? Knowing why you're special to me?"
Kara nodded. She was uncomfortable asking him this, painfully aware that his answer could screw her up in so many ways. Something had been triggered inside of her, though, and she felt like she had to know. Maybe after this, she could finally make sense of this frakked-up relationship she had with Lee.
"Well, for starter's, you've proved yourself time and again in the sky. I have to admit that I'm most comfortable when I can fix the rosters to make you my wingman. There's something about knowing you can rely on the person flying next to you. I`ve never flown with anyone who I've had that kind of connection with before you."
"Is that all?" she joked, turning over to prop herself up on his chest with her elbow. He was already making her feel uncomfortable with his praise. A little less intimate body contact and a little more sarcastic joking would help.
"No, I'm just warming up." He paused to think for a second before continuing, "Let's see. You're one of the bravest idiots I've ever seen. That's one of the reasons everyone on Galactica worships you. You do the things that they could only dream of doing, and they don't even understand how amazing that really is. Life keeps dealing you the worst hands ever and yet you find some way to go on. I admire that in you. You have this strong sense of duty and loyalty which comforts those that you let in close. When the cards are down, you wouldn't hesitate to risk your life for someone you care for. Because of that charming trait, you end up holding guilt inside of you for every single misstep you make. You hate seeing people in pain when you know you could have prevented it. On top of all of that, you`re not ashamed of the person you are even if it isn't what others want you to be. You are who you are, and it`s pretty fraking hard not to love you for it."
"Oh," Kara whispered, her eyes wide in surprise. She had expected him to say a few of those things but definitely not all of them and not with such open honesty.
"I'm not done. You have a temper and impulsivity that gets you into trouble at least twenty times a day. It's even hard for me to have a full conversation with you without wanting to punch you. You're loud and abrasive and unbelievably moody. Most times I don't know whether you're going to crack a joke or crack someone's head open. You have this uncanny ability to know just what it takes to get under a person's skin, and you have the bad habit of doing the one thing that screws everything up."
Kara thought it was uncanny that Lee had just listed every single thing she had been punished for throughout her childhood, and yet he was still smiling at her. "Those last few reasons aren't really reasons why you want to have me as a friend."
"Then you didn't get my point." He gave her a big smile. "You see, if I can love you for all those reasons, then you must be something special. Kara, the reason you mean so much to me is because I know the good and the bad of you and yet I still can't seem to stop caring about you."
Kara wished she knew what to say in response to that, but she had never been in this situation before. It was at that moment when she found herself grasping for something, anything, to say to tell him how much his words meant to her when the answer hit her like a ton of bricks.
She didn't have to say anything at all.
Kara lowered herself back down to rest beside him and let out a sigh. "Good night, Lee."
As the rain continued to pour down against the thin, plastic tent, the world seemed to slow to a stop in order to give her a moment of peace.