Word Count: 872
Pairing/Focus: Lee, Kara
“You understand the mission?”
Kara practically rolled her eyes at his tone, the same one he’d used to lecture at the Academy. Yeah, he would make a decent CAG. He lived and breathed the rule book just as heartily as she ignored it. Usually.
“Put my head outside the storm, look around, listen for wireless traffic, come home,” she recited dutifully. Then she glanced down at the man with the stern voice and over-handed manner. He was worried. He had a right to be; she couldn’t deny him that.
“No heroics, this is strictly recon,” he told her again, for maybe the tenth time. “Look, listen, return.”
“You don’t have to worry about me, Lee. My taste for heroics vanished just about the time I engaged that first Cylon fighter,” she admitted. Then, looking down into those damned blue eyes, she realized that he was just scared. They’d come very close to losing one another today; and they had lost everyone else. Yes, he had a right to worry.
He looked as if he wanted to say something more than the nod he gave, but he didn’t do it. Lee never did. That was the problem. Hell, it had always been the problem. If he’d just faced things, said things… then she would have been engaged to him two years ago instead of to Zak. She would have been with Lee, and Zak would most likely have wound up flying tankers for the Colonies. And today, Zak would have died with everyone else. So she supposed the when and where didn’t matter. But it did; Lee felt things so deeply, so solidly. Like his dedication to the rule book, he also dedicated himself to absolute emotional control.
She had seen the results when he allowed that control to slip – or it slipped on its own. She’d seen him hit his father as hard as she had hit Colonel Tigh, and the older man had never even tried to get back up. She’d seen him rant and cry and scream at his mother, then tear a living room apart. She’d seen him finally crumble into a sobbing mess on the front lawn of their home. She had known then that she couldn’t ever tell him. She couldn’t even think it. She had seen him come apart, but it was her fault.
With a nod, he’d sent her on her way now.
“Lee?” He turned back, but didn’t look interested. His mind was already on his next responsibility, neatly prioritizing, probably categorizing. She knew her words would change that. “Zak failed Basic Flight.” Lords, she couldn’t even look at him as she said it.
It got him. He came back, fire flashing in blue eyes that were commonly cool and aloof as she finally turned her gaze to his. “What?”
“Or at least he should have, but he didn’t. Because I passed him,” she clarified. Oh Lords this hurt. “His technique was sloppy and he had no feel for flying, but I passed him.” Lee just stared at her. “Because he and I… Because I felt something, and I let it get in the way of doing my job, and I couldn’t fail him.” She needed to tell him more, tell him why Zak couldn’t fail. If Zak had failed he wouldn’t have been a pilot. If he hadn’t been a pilot, he couldn’t have been like Lee and shared that piece of her. So in her wanting him to be like his brother – to be his brother – she had murdered him, or at the very least condemned him to die.
The confusion on Lee’s face was worse than the pain she knew lay beneath it, but then the confusion cleared. He knew. He knew how she felt, how she had always felt, even though neither of them had acted on it. The confusion had turned to suspicion, and that scared her. “Why are you telling me this? Why now?”
She looked at him a moment more, gauging what she saw. Understanding. Regret. Maybe some anger thrown in. “It’s the end of the world, Lee,” she finally told him. “I thought I should confess my sins.”
And still he stared at her. He didn’t speak, damn-it, or forgive, or condemn or any of the frakking things she could have hoped for. Why in hell couldn’t he just say what he felt? How hard could it be? Finally she knew her answer; not hard, but impossible. For him. For them. In disgust she put on her helmet, watching him look away. Well, that was something.
She called out to launch control, “Set,” then pulled the cockpit canopy closed without looking at him again. It didn’t matter now. Nothing mattered. Lee would be Lee, and she would fly. She wouldn’t be back from this patrol; one way or the other, she would likely get herself killed. It didn’t matter.
Suddenly nothing mattered as she blinked away tears and waited for the launch sequence to begin. After all, a runny nose was a pain in the ass when you were flying a Viper, and that was what she did. It was what she was good at. It was all she was.