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Stroke of Luck

By Mirageofmae

Word Count: 5,295
Date: 04/06/05
Series: One
Rating: M+
Category: AU
Pairing/Focus: Lee, Kara
Warnings: Violence, Some Adult Themes, a Dark Fic (Not your Daddy's Battlestar... but we knew that already)
Summary: A civil war broke out just as Kara Thrace came home.
Spoilers/Disclaimers: I don’t own ‘em and I’m not worth suing.
Note: This fic was heavily influenced by many in this fandom... I'd list your names, but it would be a rather length list... so I'll just thank you for your discussion, your fiction, your icons, your humor and your obvious love for this show. It was rather inspirational.


// Stroke of luck or a gift from God? Hand of fate or devil's claws? From below or saints above? You come to me now

Garbage, A Stroke of Luck //

She wakes confused.

Usually it is darker than her bunk usually is. Not a whole lot more, but enough that she notices the difference.

Usually she doesn’t wake next to a warm body on one side and a cold one on the other.

She sits up abruptly, only to immediately wish she hadn’t.

Concussion, she thinks, and groans as she feels the blood trickle through her hair.

She crawls over the warm body (shrinking from the cold one) and is startled when it moans.

Arms come up to grab her and his (definitely his) knees wrap around her hips. It’s a weak hold but she lets him do it.

“Lee, it’s just me.”

Her voice sounds odd and it echoes in the room. It’s not a very big room.

There are dead people in this room.

“Kara, what the frak—“

His question is cut off as he sees the dead body. He sits up and lets her slide back. He doesn’t let go of her arms.

Details come back to her slowly.

Returning the Arrow of Apollo to Galactica. Getting her ass handed to her by another Apollo. Fearing for the Old Man’s life. Getting put back to work. It’s a bad sign when Tigh will even allow her to make a suggestion when she’s already been officially labeled a traitor. She’s just glad she doesn’t have to share a brig cell with President Roslin. She likes her own space when she’s doing brig time, thank you very much.

Lee shakes her, “Kara, wake up, we have to get out of here.”

Yah for Captain Obvious. She shakes her own head, wishing the pounding would go away so she could think clearly.

He helps her stand and the memories tumble over her like water.

Helo feels dead inside and Sharon is dead inside. Both of them. Stuck in the brig, forgotten until the next crisis is over. There’s chaos in the fleet and both Lee and Kara are ordered to leave the Galactica and assist in providing much needed order amongst the masses.

They never really expected a mutiny.

“Let freedom reign! Do not let your given freedom be taken by a malicious dictator who would put your elected official in chains!” The words he spoke echo in her head. He said a lot; he always did have a way with words, the charismatic bastard.

A civil war broke out just as Kara Thrace came home.

The door is locked. They’re stuck with a dead body and a locked door. Frak.

“Where are we?”

“I don’t know.”

//

By the third day, they’re starving and throwing up from the smell of rotting flesh. Kara hasn’t slept out of fear of never waking up and Lee just waits for an absolution that hasn’t come yet. Finally a door is unlocked and they stumble in their newfound freedom.

This is not freedom.

They are now a part of a final third of humanity, a struggling community of disillusioned Sagittarians, confused Piconians and an assortment of prisoners of the worst ilk.

Zarek laughs at their faces and wonders out loud that he’d expected the rest of the fleet to have a better sense of the future.

“Welcome.” He says. By the leering eyes and the guns pointed at their uniform swathed hearts, Kara does not feel very welcome.

//

Work is something Kara is used to. When she is put to work as slave labor (the echo of those prisoners she helped put to working for freedom ripple across her back as she hauls food stuffs across a cargo hold) this is not a surprise.

She has worked since she was little. Her mother never let her be lazy and never gave her things unless she earned them. And it was very hard to earn anything from Mrs. Thrace.

She hasn’t earned anything since she arrived on the Astral Queen. They give her some food (scraps left behind by the others) and a bed (a pallet next to Lee who still turns his back to her at night.) No compensation. No credits. No hazard pay. Certainly no respect. She’s going stir crazy. She hasn’t seen the stars in a month. She hasn’t felt a Viper between her legs in longer than a month.

She’s earned nothing from this insane revolution. Nothing but a broken hand, a concussion, three fractured ribs and a very sore jaw. Lee tells her not to be so antagonist it. She tells him to shove it.

She wonders where her sense of duty has gone. She works now, not out of duty, but out of sheer survival.

Lee, apparently, never gave up on it. He felt a duty to Colonies that don’t exist anymore. Enough duty to disobey orders he felt were wrong. Enough to stand up for principles he clings to when all else fails. He still clings to those principles. He’s trying to rile up enough sentiment to start a mutinty against a mutiny. He’s fraking insane.

She wonders if her duty left her when she left Galactica. Her “home” turned out to be nothing but a disappointment. An Arrow is not worth the—

Helo might say otherwise.

She shakes her head to dispel unpleasant thoughts.

And Lee is still angry.

//

“Kara.” His voice is soft and for a moment she wonders if she’s been transported to another time (before she screwed up their lives) because for once he doesn’t sound exasperated. “Wake up.” In fact, he sounds concerned, even tender.

He holds her head in his lap, his hands cradling her chin and suddenly she really doesn’t want to wake up and have him retreat from her again. She hasn’t felt his touch on her skin since he slammed his fist into her teeth all that time ago. She aches to feel his hands on her again, even if it means she has to provoke him into hurting her.

“Wake up, Kara!” There’s the exasperation again. She opens her eyes and realizes why she’s having such a hard time. One is swollen shut. The other is a little blurry.

“What happened?” Or at least, that’s what she means to say. It doesn’t come out quite right. Her lip is a little too puffy and she bit her tongue at one point.

“Why did you have to push it? Grimes was just giving me a hard time, you could have just let me deal with it and—“

“And let him tear you to shreds?” She looks at him, her good eye finally clearing. She meets his deep blue eyes and is thankful that they’re both shining at her now. She savors the pain that comes from speaking through a split lip. “He thinks he can just punch me and I’ll learn my lesson. He wouldn’t have stopped there for you.”

He doesn’t say anything after that, just watches a drop of blood trickle down her chin.

//

“Are you still pissed about that?”

She can’t believe he’s being so stupid now. They’re prisoners of a fraked up terrorist who’s running a third of humanity in a communist community and he’s still pissy that she let some scientist dip his wick into her honey pot back on the Galactica.

“Gods Kara, can we just talk about something else for once!”

“You’re the one who keeps bringing it up—“

She’s tired of this. Tired of taking his flak, tired of being the punching bag. She’s had enough of that from Grimes.

She just wants him to hit her or frak her and be done with it.

“I just don’t understand you—“

“I don’t think you ever did.”

//

A moment of peace is dispersed amongst the chaos. She’s sucking on a cigar and feeling like she’s in heaven.

She wakes to find it was only a dream and the scent of cigars cruelly cloys to the back of her throat.

She wakes to find herself curled against Lee’s sleeping back.

I was just drawn to the warmth, she thinks, it’s always so fraking cold in here—

She lets herself relax against him. She lets her chin press against his shoulder blade and admires the strong lines of his neck. He needs a hair cut almost as bad as she does. She smiles at the thought of unruly hair to run her fingers through. She almost can’t help the impulse—

If he wakes and finds her here with her hands wrapped around his head—

He does.

He isn’t angry.

Just confused.

//

“I think we need to talk about this!”

“I think we’ve talked enough.”

They’re whispering over the last few bags of grain. She wonders if anyone knows how unsuccessful this little experiment in socialism has been. They’re going to have to start stealing from the other ships in their fraked up fleet if they’re going to make it through the next few months. Question is, who do they steal from in empty space?

She pushes at his shoulders, begging him to let her pass. He does. He always does.

“You can’t ignore this forever you know.”

She’s not sure if he’s talking about the rebellion he’s been planning with some of the others. They’re not the only ones displeased with the turn of events. Half the ship never even wanted to leave the protection of the Galactica, despite the chaos and the horrible turn of events. But the other half was stronger when push came to shove. The other half killed first and asked questions later, much later.

She’s not sure if he’s talking about the fact that they now sleep wrapped up in each other. She’s not sure if he’s talking about the fact that they now rarely speak, rarely look at each other, rarely touch except to make sure they’re alive at night—

She turns and ignores it for one more day.

//

And then one day she can’t sleep.

She pulls her arms from around his waist and tries not to cry.

She’s feeling despair in her stomach and tries to ignore it. She deserves it, remember? She’s a no-good screw up who deserves all the pain her life brings her. She turns her back to Lee, suddenly unable to look at him.

He wraps his arms around her before she knows he’s even awake.

She lets him.

He touches his lips to the crook of her neck.

She lets him.

Her heart is beginning to beat frantically against her chest and she can feel his own echoing through the thin fabric of her shirt.

He pulls and tugs at her clothing and she feels the cold of their room on her breasts.

He drags his tongue across the bottom of her jaw and she angles her neck so he can suck on her ear.

She pushes his hands to her hips and spreads her legs just a bit.

He pushes in and bites her shoulder.

She wants to cry and sob and twist and moan all at once and it’s too much for her—

She sees stars again.

//

He doesn’t say it but she knows he wants to.

She wonders if he’s thinking about sloppy seconds.

She wonders if he’s thinking about Zak.

She wonders if he itches like she does, to feel him wrapped around her over and over and over again.

He turns away from her gaze as if he knows she’s thinking thoughts she shouldn’t be thinking.

She tries not to wonder anymore.

//

The second night she couldn’t sleep she pushes him onto his back and crawls on top of him. He wakes immediately, being a lighter sleeper than even she.

He doesn’t question her move, only reaches up to touch her hair (ever lengthening stupid fraking hair always in her eyes hair) and tucks it behind her ear. The move is so gentle, so tender, so—

She puts her hands around his neck and presses hard.

Then they’re naked and it doesn’t take much to get him up and suddenly she’s sinking down and all is right in her world.

He’s thrusting up and into her heat even as she presses down over his throat.

For some reason, he doesn’t seem to mind, he just holds her arms tight enough to bring a sharp pain to her bones. She’s thinner than she used to be. She’s frailer.

She has tears streaming down her face as she comes and she collapses over him. Her head rests against his clavicle and she can feel his heart pounding against her face. He’s still hard inside of her.

She bites down on his neck when he flips them over. He’s using her now and she likes that. His fingers are digging into her thighs and she likes that. She’s left bruises on his neck and she likes that.

They don’t speak for two days after that.

//

“Will you just stop and think for one second before you go and—“

His request is politely cut off by a punch in the gut.

He coughs into his hands and then glares at her. “You realize what he’s trying to do, don’t you? He knows his people are satisfied with his little revolution. He knows that the others have come to respect you and I. He’s trying to break us up—“

“What’s he trying to do? Break us up? We were never together, Lee!”

He looks startled. She can’t stop now.

“There is nothing left, Lee, nothing! Just stop it!”

“Then why do you keep letting those guys get to you? Why do you keep letting them get you riled up and hurt you.”

Because it’s the only way I feel alive anymore. It’s the only way you’ll touch me when we’re not covered in darkness. It’s the only way I can make this world seem right again—

“Because they pissed me off.”

//

“He’s becoming a problem.”

She hears it after her workday. She hears it and knows what it means.

She doesn’t want to think about it.

//

He didn’t tell her.

The fraker never told her and she’s pissed.

“Lee!”

Her voice echoes in the small room they share with others of their kind. Slaves, they’re called, whispered under the breaths of the “Full Citizens of the Republic of Freedom.” Shitty name, she’s always thought. Not much imagination there. But Zarek wasn’t one for cute names, just power, just domination, just a crowd where he can hear himself talk for hours on end.

He’s still expounding about the big bad man who’s coming to get them.

She somehow doubts it.

“Lee!” She searches the mess hall, the control deck (has to duck behind a console when others look her way, she’s not supposed to be there) and the small landing bay.

He’s nowhere to be found.

She backtracks to the control deck, surely he must be here if it worked—

“Looking for the Brave Apollo?” Zarek’s voice would be soothing if there wasn’t that edge to it. Instead he gives her chills down her spine.

He’s interrupted by a dradis contact.

“It’s the Galactica.”

For three precious seconds her heart soars. Her home, her true home has arrived. Not the battered remains of a planet she never felt at home on. Not the shattered cities and demolished hopes. Not the place of betrayal, the destruction of her hope—

Her elation is smashed into tiny pieces as Zarek takes in this little detail and smiles.

“Your Golden Boy sure is smart. He managed to waltz in here and send a message. He even stole himself a ship to get himself over there. But we left him a little surprise. And now he’s going to meet his maker.”

She’s not sure who he’s referring to. Commander Adama or--

Her mind doesn’t want to go there.

She watches the dradis counsel with absolute stillness even as the goon squad (big beefy guys who prove their masculinity by wearing a gun three times bigger than their brains) reach to restrain her. She doesn’t mind. They twist her wrists but she barely feels it over the fear flooding her senses.

A small ship, the smallest of their fraked up fleet (as she has come to call it) is about to intercept the Galactica. That little ship is glowing red.

Radiological alarm!

It’s Dee’s voice in her head and she knows the woman in CIC echoes it in reality.

She watches in horror as the blip is destroyed.

She doesn’t feel the twist and pull of space as they jump away from danger.

She doesn’t feel anything anymore.

//

She’s alone now. The others don’t talk to her for a while. They blame her. Maybe Zarek succeeded in breaking her or maybe there was nothing left that wasn’t already broken. She doesn’t get into fights anymore. She does her work without complaint. They tell her she might even become a full citizen someday. If she could find it within her to laugh, she would.

She blames herself too.

//

Zarek still spouts shit about freedom and equality. He still gives lengthy speeches over the ships’ PA. He doesn’t seem to notice that there are less alive to hear it.

Despair is a better killer than the Cylons.

He’s slowly going insane, she thinks one night. He keeps talking about the Galactica finding them. They jumped so fraking far, the Cylons haven’t even found them yet.

She sits on a cold metal floor and waits for the end to come. She sits on a cold metal floor and doesn’t care.

//

“Ms. Thrace?” The voice interrupts her usual time of solitude and she’s pissed before she’s completely come back to reality.

It’s Ladona, a woman with two small children who’s been bugging Kara lately about all sorts of things. “What?” She keeps looking up at Kara with big blue eyes and a heart softer than Zak’s.

“I’m worried for the children.”

We’re all worried about the children, Kara wants to say. Kara wants to hurt this woman sometimes, for trying to make her feel again.

She turns her back and doesn’t know what to do.

//

A month later the questions come.

She asks herself, “What would Starbuck do?” She can’t remember that anymore.

So she moves on: She asks herself, “What would Lee do?”

She sneaks into the control room and sends a second message to the Galactica. She hopes they’ll be subtler this time.

//

Zarek calls her into his inner sanctum and admits he’s afraid. She isn’t surprised.

“They’re coming for us.” He stares into the distances and it’s unclear who he’s referring to.

“They’re coming. We can’t let them win. I can’t let them have—“

He trails off, mumbling. She is escorted out; more confused then when she went in.

//

The plan is announced over his favorite PA system.

Kara now understands a new dimension of insanity.

She finally realizes what Lee had been trying to tell her. She finally knows what her duty is.

//

The stranglehold is tight, tight enough that she’s wheezing to get a breath of air. He’s pinching her nose, grimy fingers biting into her skin, making gouges out of what were once just scratches. The cup is nearing her face; she can see it in the corner of her eye. She whimpers, hating herself for it, but she’s unable to stop the sob that gets stuck in her throat.

Not like this, she thinks desperately, but she knows that this is what she deserves. Deserves to go down and rot in hell for all her sins. Deserves to suffer and hate and pray for a peace that will never come.

She stills fights.

She yanks her foot from underneath her and kicks wildly. She hears a grunt but it’s muffled by the chest that’s suddenly crushing her into the bulkhead.

The liquid is pink. What an absurd color for something so deadly. Hands yank her mouth open cruelly, uncaring that her face doesn’t actually stretch that far on its own. She wrenches her head and snaps at fingers. She hears a howl of pain and grins when she tastes blood.

She closes her eyes and thinks of Lee—

Lords, please—

The hands come back and now she’s not so sure. The noise in her ears is getting louder. She can sense the press of bodies around her, the cries of children, the hush of their mothers, the sound of liquid filling plastic cup after plastic cup.

The end is coming soon—

What would Lee do?

But it doesn’t matter now because—

She can’t think about that anymore.

She lets go—

The stuff slips down her throat like candy and she chokes on the sweetness of it. She only swallows part of it, the rest slides down her face, leaving a sticky residue that makes her gag.

They release her abruptly and she sees why.

A sea of empty cups clatter to the ground around her. The guards drop their guns and reach for their own cups. They’re gone before she really knows why. She snags the opportunity by its tail, reaching for a fallen gun and staggering to her feet. The rush of being in power again as she’s wrapping her hands around the butt of the gun, it fills her with an energy she couldn’t summon before. Knowing someone will die for her pain—

The edges of her vision are blurring—

She sees Zarek and knows how this is going to end.

So does he.

He raises his glass in a silent toast—

It spills to the ground harmlessly, pink liquid staining the floor around his feet. He slumps over, tumbling to the ground. Once tall and proud, Ton Zarek is now only a harmless bag of flesh and water. The blood from the perfectly round bullet wound in his forehead starts to mingle with the liquid.

She wants to throw up now.

She barely sees the bodies; she’s just stepping over them subconsciously, tripping over a stray arm that hadn’t been tucked properly into its owner’s side. She reaches Zarek and feels for a pulse. There is only stillness in skin that’s already clammy and cold.

She feels for her own pulse—

And suddenly she’s gone from that place.

//

There’s light in front of her eyelids.

Which is strange, she supposes, since she was sure she was dead.

“Kara—“

Stranger, she decides, since she was sure he was dead first.

She opens her eyes to a blinding light and flinches at the contact near her hand. Her eyes are weary from being in a darkened ship for months on end and her hand has been broken once and improperly set and appears to have been broken again to fix that damage. She stares at her fingers, splinted and bandaged, and then moves her gaze to the fingers that are not her own.

“You’re dead.” Her voice is empty and rough with the first words of the day. His hand moves to bring her water, fingers curling around the plastic cup and her eyes don’t leave them for a second.

She sips on blessedly clear water, fresh from melted ice, brought to her by the hands of those—

“So were you.” He pauses and it’s a heavy pregnant beat filled with a million things unsaid. “For a whole two minutes.”

She doesn’t answer, just lets her eyes wander, ignoring the intense gaze beating down on her from somewhere to her right.

She moves her gaze to the arm and realizes he’s not quite as bruised as she. As built as ever, though he’s lost a little muscle mass in those months of imprisonment. Still has that skin that she once loved to touch and scratch and—

He’s speaking in a low voice to her, explaining what her mind has carefully cut from her memory. “Zarek was found dead, shot in the forehead. We’re not sure by whom.” His tone tells her otherwise. He knows exactly who shot Zarek. It will never be in a report or spoken to the press, but as long as he knows—

She stops her gaze at his shoulder. He’s wearing the usual set of tanks and for once they’re actually clean. She doesn’t want to go anything further. She doesn’t want to listen anymore.

“913 people were found dead. All committed suicide with a poison. Our strike team infiltrated but we were too late.”

She’s not sure what he’s waiting for.

He continues and his voice has changed now, “You were dead Kara. I held you in my arms and—“ He stops, voice now reverting back to a CAG’s voice. An impersonal commanding voice that begs for her to release him from his duty, begs for her to be his friend, his lover, his equal, his best pilot, anything but the sad screw-up he had to save. “The medic thought he felt a pulse. It’s a good thing you’re strong and didn’t get a full dose. You wouldn’t have made it otherwise.” His voice is harsh on those last words and she doesn’t understand why. He continues but she’s not really listening anymore.

She just watches him, hoping she’ll never have to answer the questions that will soon be coming—

She wonders how much he saw. She wonders how much he knows. She probably doesn’t need to wonder, she already knows the answer.

“How are you—“ She asks, suddenly confused by his miraculous return.

“The ship I was on… Zarek put me on that ship. It was on a self destruct sequence. The ships crew and I tried to turn it off, but we didn’t manage to shut the whole thing off. Whole sections of the ship were destroyed, people died…” He trails off. This should explain it. Even a partial explosion would show up on dradis, but not the details. It doesn’t explain the dread in her heart. “Galactica picked us up a few hours later when they realized we weren’t really going to send a nuke.”

She sighs.

“why?”

“How should I know? Zarek was a fraked up—“

“No, why didn’t you tell me?”

He’s silent for awhile. “I wasn’t sure if you would—“

He doesn’t finish. She could fnish it herself if she wanted, “—trust me enough,” “—love me enough,” “—want to go home at all.”

She ignores these things in favor of the silence.

Then. Her heart is pounding again. She still can’t quite grasp that he’s not dead—

She bites down onto a sob as she finally sees his neck and realizes that the bruises are gone. The mottled bruises she had left are gone and it’s almost as if he’s been brought back to her by the Gods, clean and whole again—

“Kara.” He commands and for once she has to obey. She meets his eyes and she’s struggling to hold onto her tears, her dignity, her sense of rightness— She will not relent, she will not give in, she won’t hurt for another minute because of Lee Fracking Adama—

He breaks their tableaux by looking over his shoulder and she must follow his gaze. The Old Man is resting comfortably in chair behind Lee’s, his head tilted back with a book in his lap and his glasses perched precariously on his nose.

That does it. She’s sobbing before she knows it and in his arms before she could feel him move.

She digs her unbroken hand into his shoulder, biting down with her nails until she feels bone. She wraps the arm with the splint around the broad part of his back, holding as tightly as she can—

She needn’t have bothered. He’s holding her so tightly, she wonders if her ribs will be bruised. She shoves her nose in his neck and lets herself take a breath of air. The smells of sweat, engine oil, fear and the distinct scent of him pervade her senses. She clenches her eyes shut and holds this moment in her heart for as long as possible.

She knows this will be the last time before—

She feels the seconds stretch into hours and lets her tears stain his neck.

“Lee—“

The word is ground out with her lips against his pulse, teeth grinding, still savoring that fresh beat that stretches taut against his skin. She opens her mouth and bites down on the space where his neck meets his shoulder. She wants to lick the skin there and remember the feel of him yielding under her teeth.

She wants so much to just hold him forever and burn in this feeling until there’s nothing left—

“Why Kara?”

She knows he is still angry, she can feel it in his spine. She’s known it since the moment she woke up. Still angry and clutching at her like she’s the last thing in the world to hold onto.

“Why did you do it?” His back is tense and his arms suddenly feel like a cage. He doesn’t let go.

“Lee—” Her voice is lower than she’d like, sounding almost supplicating. She’s whining now, begging him to skip this part, ignore the implications, embrace that fraking silence and wordless (lack of) communication they’re always so good at.

“Please Kara, just tell me why you did it.” Why did you let go, he doesn’t say, why did you give in to Zarek and take that poison? Why didn’t you follow me when I gave you the chance?

She breathes into his neck, lets her breath cool on his skin, her eyelashes flutter against him and her arms relax their hold. She collapses into him, letting their bodies’ meet where stiffness had held court before. She is like a doll that has lost her strings and she has no energy to call them back. She can’t do this anymore. She can’t talk to him, can’t deal with him, can’t waste any more energy loving him—

He’ll be the death of her. This she knows.

She was the death of Zak, but for sure, Lee Adama will be the death of her.

She’s not sure how much her soul can give.

His fingers dig into her skin, a reminder. Maybe she’ll have bruises tomorrow.

“Because Lee,” she gasps, slowing down she’ll say more: “Mission accomplished. Come on home.”

//

They don’t mention it after that.

If at a card game, there is a prolonged silence, a joke will appear and make it go away.

If at a meeting, there is a question of his authority, sarcasm usually comes and punches can be thrown.

If she is in the brig or waiting to be sent there, he’ll shove her into a bulkhead and remind her that she’s still alive and has duty to uphold.

If she gets cold at night, she turns on her side and begs the lords for oblivion.