author: claira (mail to clairad@gmail.com)
summary:kara/lee.
rating:r
a/n: with thanks to pen. as usual.

[ r e a c h i n g   o u t   f o r   h u m a n   f a i t h ]

The day they lose Hotdog, Kara gets back the bunkroom, unearths one of her last bottles of ambrosia (half full, good quality) and slams it back without bothering to pour it into a glass. She drains a good third before she has to breathe, and when her throat stops burning and she’s blinked the tears away, she notices Lee standing beside her.

He holds out his hand for the bottle.

“No,” she says.

“Kara.”

“Frak you.”

“Give it to me,” he tells her, and he sounds almost dangerous, so she does.

He doesn’t put the lid on, like she expected, doesn’t lock the bottle in his locker and give her one of his concerned, brotherly looks – he raises the bottle to his lips instead and she watches, hands shaking, as he drinks and drinks until there’s only two inches left.

He puts it down on the table. “You can have the rest.”

“Thanks.”

“How many bottles do you have?”

“One more.”

“I’ve got two.”

“Right.”

*

Somewhere after they finish Lee’s half empty bottle (half each now, she’s trying to keep track), they decide they should probably take their drinking out of the bunkroom and somewhere more private. Lee says he knows somewhere and Kara follows him, watching with interest as he sways slightly on his feet.

“You’re drunk, Lee.”

“So are you,” he says, grabs her with one arm just as she stumbles. She matches her stride to his, doesn’t care where they are going.

She’s hopelessly lost after about five minutes because all the corridors look the same, grey and slightly fuzzy. Lee’s arm is warm around her. She stops walking, and he turns to looks at her, confused.

“It was my fault."

“It wasn’t.”

“I should have taught him – ”

He grabs her shoulders, and the bottles clink together loudly in the bag he’s carrying.

“It was not your fault.”

She looks away, sees another viper explode in her head. Hears someone else’s screams. “It’s always my fault, Lee.”

“Listen to me,” he says, shaking her slightly, and they both hear footsteps at the same time. He pulls her back into the darkness of the hatchway. “Shhhh.”

She stifles a giggle, and then feels sickeningly guilty because Hotdog is dead and frak, she can’t be laughing. Everything spins once, a neat 360, and she holds onto his shoulders and tries to focus. The footsteps pass, fade away.

“Lee.”

“Kara?”

“He’s dead.”

“I know.”

His skin is warm under her hands; she traces the planes of his face with gentle, clumsy fingers – she’s never touched him before. “You’re not.”

“No.” His lips barely move, and it’s nothing to raise herself on her toes and kiss him.

He pushes her back, and she looks at him, confused and watches as he places bag with the alcohol down carefully at their feet. Then he pulls her to him, so sharply her head jerks back and his mouth is hot against her throat, right where her pulse is racing.

"Kara," he says, "Kara," and she grinds her body into his until his hands press into her hips so hard she knows she'll have bruises, but the pain means she's alive and he's alive and oh gods, his hands on her skin.

He’s got his hands underneath her tanks when she hears someone gasp, and she drags her mouth from his, looks over his shoulder. Two men (technicians, she thinks, she’s seen them before somewhere) are staring at them, one’s mouth open in shock, but Hotdog is shrapnel and Lee’s hands are flexing against her stomach and she’s drunk, so drunk that she doesn’t care.

Lee’s fingers find the edge of her bra, slide under and she sucks in a desperate breath, lets her head drop onto his shoulder. When she looks up again, the men are gone.

"Lee," and it's almost a whimper, "Lee - "

She knows they should probably move or stop or something, because this is insanity, but he's pulling at the fastenings of her suit and she thinks she hears something pop, and then he's kissing her again, and it's hard to think.

And pretty soon, she can't think at all.

“Don't you frakking die on me," he tells her a little later, and her head snaps back and hits the wall. It's just the right mix of almost-pain and sensation and she pulls at his shoulders, pulls him closer closer, deeper, almost frantic. "Kara."

She opens her mouth to tell him she won't, but he slips his hand between them and she shudders, falls apart, gasps his name over and over instead.

*

She wakes up and for about ten seconds, she can’t remember anything. Then she does.

Hotdog. Ambrosia. Too much ambrosia. Lee. Too much of Lee.

“Frak,” she says under her breath, closes her eyes against some of the more vivid memories. “Gods.”

“Coming, Starbuck?”

She rolls over. Lee’s sitting on his rack, pulling his socks on.

“Are you frakking insane?”

“Not feeling up to it?”

She sits up. “Give me five, Apollo.”

*

She wonders briefly if she’s imagining that everyone’s staring at them, but her stomach is churning so much that she stops looking around, concentrates on Lee’s feet, breathes in out in out until she loses herself in the steady one-two beat.

It’s minutes later when he suddenly stops and she nearly careens into him.

“Why are we – ” she starts, and then she notices the bag sitting abandoned against the wall. “Oh.”

“I thought we should check that …”

“That what?” His neck flushes, and she grins. “We should remove all the evidence?”

“Something like that,” he says hastily, eyes still on the floor.

“So... we’re fine?”

“Sure,” he says, and she looks at him, because he sounds far too casual for someone who was frakking her against the wall last night.

“You do, um, remember?”

He stops then, looks at her, traces slowly down her body with his eyes and her whole body tenses. “Okay, good,” she says quickly. “Just so we’re clear.”

He half grins at that, then leans over and picks up a button. “This yours?”

“Yeah.” She holds out a hand for it, and his fingertips brush her palm. “So, this would be a good time to tell you that we got caught?”

“What?”

“When we were, um. Two men. I think they were technicians.”

“So - ”

“Everyone knows, yeah.”

He nods.

“You don’t care?”

“Do you?”

“No, but Lee, you’re the CAG, and … ” she trails off, because he’s looking at her again, like that, and she thinks that maybe she should be embarrassed at how much that alone can make her feel.

“There are things more important,” he says finally.

“Oh.” Oh.

There’s nothing she can say to that, and she watches, leaning back against the wall as he picks up the bottles and puts them inside the nearest room, dogs the hatch.

“I’ll get them later,” he says, and she bounces on her toes. “What?”

“Readysetgo.”

“Starbuck!”

She laughs, runs faster.

*

She beats him back to the bunkroom by seconds.

“Getting slow in your old age, Adama,” she tells him gleefully, and then stops because Cat’s lying facedown on her rack, shoulders shaking with sobs.

“Well, Thrace - ” Lee steps into the room behind her and breaks off just as abruptly. She turns, speaks low.

“Go. I’ll stay here.”

He nods, collects his towel and leaves for the head. Kara sits down on Cat’s rack, rubs the girl’s shoulders in slow circles until the sobs are less frequent.

*

She strips off her sweaty tanks, steps under the warm water and rolls her shoulders back twice. The steam makes her choke when she takes a deep breath, and her eyes sting with the water, so she glances down.

He did bruise her. Not deeply, but there are clear marks on her hips. She smoothes her palms over her skin, feels his fingers - and looks up to find half the room staring at her.

"Please," she tells them all. "Don't tell me you haven't seen these before?"

Someone laughs. They stop looking after that.

*

Helo sits next to her at lunch.

“So.”

“Shut up.”

“Didn’t say anything.”

"You were thinking too loud."

They eat in silence for a while, and then he grins.

“What?”

“Oh – ” He spears something green and leafy with his fork and stuffs it in his mouth. “Ringer’s going to be happy. I think this was his week.”

She gets it, after a moment. “How much did he win?”

“Enough socks to last a lifetime.”

She rolls her eyes.

He looks at her, and the joking fades from his eyes. “Are you alright, Buck?”

“Why wouldn’t I be?”

“You need me to spell that out to you?”

“Oh gods.” She scrubs a hand over her face. “I – keep thinking there was something else I could have done.”

He nods. “There wasn’t,” he tells her firmly, resting his hand on hers on the tabletop, and when he says it like that, she almost believes it.

*

She’s bluffing outrageously; she doesn’t even have a pair in her hand and Joker’s the last one left playing against her. It’s Hotdog’s wake, and all the pilots are crammed into the same room, and the air is so thick with cigar smoke that it’s hazy and hard to breathe.

She doesn’t see him enter until he’s standing beside her. “Hey,” he says, nudging her shoulder.

“Hey.”

“Deal you in, Apollo?” Joker asks and Lee shakes his head.

“I’ll watch.” He leans on the back of the chair, bends until his chin is almost resting on her shoulder. “Wow. You’re going to try and win with that hand?”

“I will kill you if you ruin this,” she says under her breath and he chuckles.

She raises Joker, who looks at her, at Lee, and back at her again, and folds.

“How do you do it?” Lee asks and she can hear him grinning.

“Practice,” she says, fanning her hand of nothing neatly on the table and smirking at Joker, who drops his head into his hands and groans as the men around the table laugh.

“Captain Adama and Lieutenant Thrace?”

Everyone looks up. Gaeta is standing at the door, looking awkward, and Lee straightens.

“Yes?”

“Colonel Tigh wants to see you. In the CIC.”

Kara gets to her feet, and the sound of her chair scraping against the floor is painfully loud.

“Maybe next time,” she says to Joker, cuffing his shoulder lightly as she follows Lee out.

*

Tigh’s pacing in front of them, five steps, turn, five steps back. “There have been rumours circulating the Galactica.”

“Has somebody reported something?” Lee asks, and Tigh looks confused, flicks his gaze at Kara as if he expected her to be the one challenging him.

“I want to remind you both that any kind of relationship would be against regulations.”

“Has anyone actually reported anything?”

The skin on Tigh’s face seems to pull tighter. “No.”

“Well,” Lee says slowly, carefully, “It seems we are at something of an impasse.”

The question hangs in the air, they all know it, and Kara also knows that Lee won’t lie, can’t lie.

“Be very careful, Captain.” Tigh says, soft and dangerous and Kara lets out a breath she didn’t know she was holding.

“Yes, Sir.”

“Get out of here.”

They manage to get a decent distance from the CIC before they start laughing.

*

She's about to open the hatch of the rec room when he stops her, places his hand on her arm.

"I meant it."

"What?"

"Don't die on me."

She looks at Lee, thinks of the Cylons and the Galactica. Thinks of him. "I can't promise."

"Just try, okay?"

"I can do that."

His hand releases her, and then the hatch is open and the smoke is even worse than before.

"Starbuck!" Joker exclaims. "Just the pilot I was waiting for."

"Charmed," she says, and pulls up a seat. "Lee?"

"I'll watch."

Over the triad table, she bluffs Joker again and Lee watches.

Her luck holds.

*

[ b a c k ]