Fic: Act II

Nov. 3rd, 2012 02:27 pm
[personal profile] embolalia
Title: Act II
Pairing: Kara/Lee
Rating: PG-13
Words: ~3,000
Summary: The morning after Founder's Day on New Caprica, Kara has to live with what she's done.
A/N: This has a few small references to my story Prologue, but you don't need to have read it. I may also continue this through season 3 when I have time, but not soon. In the meantime, it's self-contained and canon-compliant, so no cliffhanger! :)


Lee wakes on the beach, and Kara’s sleeping against him. He smiles at her, so blown away by her love that he wants to get up and scream it to the clouds all over again. He kisses her forehead and holds her closer, then drifts back to sleep.

*

She's watching him sleep and feeling the wonder of it for the second time, all these years later, this time content. Kara feels stronger, more whole, than she ever has in her life. Because of him. Because Lee's right, this could be the rest of their lives and he admitted he loves her, and she said the words back without the sky falling. As long as he's right, as long as the Cylons don't come back, she gets everything she ever wanted. And here in his arms, belief and love radiating out of him and filling her up, she knows without a doubt that he's right.

Kara swallows hard. That means she has to do the hard thing: leave Sam. And she cringes at the thought because she knows it will hurt him, but she also knows he'll survive. He survived the Cylons on Caprica for months; he'll make it without her. Anxiety tugs at her anyway, and she resolves to get it over with. Now, before she can agonize over it too much. She can be back here before Lee wakes up, can be with him without this hanging over her. She smiles again. It sounds so perfect.

The morning air holds a chill as she pulls away from Lee, and Kara tugs on her clothes as quickly as she can. Before she walks away she kneels down beside him for one more moment, memorizing. She leans in close, her lips beside his ear. "Kara Thrace loves Lee Adama," she whispers, fearless. And means it with everything she is.


Her feet drag in the sand as she heads back toward the site of last night's festivities. Her throat is dry from the drinking and the sun is coming up across the dunes. Sam is still sleeping, sprawled under a table, and when Tigh calls her over Kara turns away, lets him have a few more minutes before the inevitable. Only already it doesn’t feel inevitable at all, already panic is tightening her chest. Tigh’s laughter is a reminder of everything she knows to be true.

“Tell me all about it,” he says kindly.

She tries to think of how to put it, and all she can remember is the grin on Lee’s face. It makes her smile even in memory. “I never really had anything good or happy in my life,” she says slowly. “My family was a wreck when I was a kid, and I got in a lot of trouble.”
Tigh snorts, then waves her on.

“I lost Zak. Lost everyone else I knew on Caprica. And Anders gets that. We’re the same in some ways. We have fun. But Lee...he’s always known me. And still loved me. He makes me so happy.” She hides her grin, taking another swig. She doesn’t tell him the rest, about the joy on Lee’s face last night. She’d never felt so naked before, or so intimate, or so loved. It was exquisite. In the span of hours, her whole life was torn apart and rebuilt around her.

“He believes,” she says, tears stinging her eyes without reason. “He believes we have our whole lives ahead of us here. That it’s just about what we want.” There’s a lump growing in her throat even as she fights it. It’s the one thing she’s never believed, and without his arms around her it feels like a dream.

Tigh hmphs, taking the bottle back.

“What?”

He turns toward her, serious. “We’ve only got a little while until the Cylons come back, Starbuck. Days or months or however long it lasts. We’re still at war.”

She closes her eyes a moment and remembers in quick flashes all the times she’s saved Lee. All the times she was mere seconds away from losing him. Already the memories make her heart race in fear. He needs her, he said it last night. And the terrifying corollary is that she needs him, too.

Her eyes linger on Ellen’s sleeping form. “You chose Ellen.”

Tigh follows her gaze. “Not during a time of war.”

“I’m sorry,” Kara says suddenly.

“For what?”

“That I teased you about her. The day of the attacks.”

He waves it off. “Forget it.”

She nods.

He holds out the whiskey again and she grimaces, drinks. There’s sand between her toes and real sunlight on her face. And all of it is only until the Cylons come back. Because then, sooner or later, she’ll watch Apollo die.

“It’ll have to be Anders, then.” She says it in Starbuck’s voice, surprised herself at how steady she sounds when the words seem to slice through her.

Tigh looks toward her, startled.

“If I lost Lee—” She shakes her head, letting him fill in the rest. She needed her father, needed Zak, and look where that got her.
Tigh doesn’t offer any sympathy, and Kara’s grateful. She couldn’t handle any right now. “Make the call, then,” he says. “Don’t look back.”

She nods once and takes a last shot, letting the alcohol burn away the part of her that wants to run back to Lee’s arms. Kara rises, crosses the beach to where Sam is still sleeping. She flops down beside him. “Hey.” She strokes his hair off his face and he opens his eyes, smiles up at her brilliantly.

Kara grins. “Let’s get married.”

*

Sam doesn't stop smiling at her the whole way to find the priest, and Ellen giggles with glee at being included in the spontaneity. Kara doesn't look at Tigh as he steadies his wife. Can't.

They find Bill down by the river, laying on a blanket with the President. It's enough to make Kara laugh herself, in spite of everything. He straightens up and smiles at her with such delight that for one moment her own grin fades at the thought that maybe Lee was right, maybe they are allowed to be happy.

But then Adama gets up, and stumbles, and she catches the smell of whatever he and Roslin have been smoking and Kara is laughing again. She offers him her arm, pulls him to his feet.

“What's going on here?” he grouses, waving to the priest and the Tighs.

“Starbuck's getting hitched!” Tigh calls out.

Adama looks at her in awe.

“To Anders,” she says quickly, tilting her head toward him as the man in question slides an arm around her.

Adama nods at her seriously once, then twice, then a third time. Roslin bursts into giggles on the blanket at their feet.

“Will you stand with us?” Kara asks impulsively. She looks down at the President. “Both of you?”

“Of course!” Laura exclaims, rising. “Now?”

“Yup,” Sam says, smiling down at his bride-to-be.

Kara looks up at him, then back to Adama. He's suddenly sad. “Sir?”

“Are you leaving, too? I decided—” he gestures to Laura, “we decided last night to let Cally and the Chief muster out. Some others too, I expect.”

In spite of everything she said to Lee about flying patrols being boring, Kara hesitates. It would mean leaving Lee, and even now that gives her pause.

“That would be great,” Sam says for her. “Give us a real chance to start a life down here.”

Kara nods mutely.

Adama stares into her eyes, and she can't quite decide if he knows exactly what's in her head or is still stoned. “You deserve to be happy, Kara,” he says, and pulls her away from Sam long enough to hug her close, kiss her forehead.

The priest clears her throat and they turn to find her standing with the Tighs and Laura, ready to begin. Adama smiles at Kara and leads her two steps forward before releasing her hand to Sam. The role of her father in this whole thing, and she kisses his cheek in gratitude as he lets her go.

The words are simple: the avowal of a covenant before Aphrodite and Eros that their love will bind them always together, through happiness and sadness. Kara looks up at Sam as he promises to be her husband and knows that this will be good, that he does love her, that she does love him. They have a real chance together. He kisses her and she kisses him back. The world feels like something she has control over again. She's a new woman.

*

Lee frowns and stretches as he looks around for Kara. She's gone. He reaches for his pants. She's left her mark on his skin and he's glad for a moment that he won't have to explain it to Dee.

As he pulls on his clothes and trudges up the beach, Lee is smiling, coming up with explanations for Kara, just like always. She went for water. She went for coffee. She went for more booze. She freaked out and now he's going to have to spend the rest of the morning reminding her how good they are together.

His imagination races ahead. Is it worth staying on Pegasus if she'd rather be here? Will his father approve, after everything with Zak? Lee recites his arguments in preparation as he walks: he loves her, she loves him. They don’t need anyone’s approval to be happy.

He smiles fondly when he passes the empty bandstand. It turned out it was a night worth celebrating.

His father is up ahead on the beach, and Lee heads toward him, hoping for a clue as to the nature of Kara's disappearing act. Whatever it is, he isn't worried.


When Bill tells him it's like the air has been sucked out of his lungs, and Lee knows the feeling better than anyone.

It's not real, his mind tries to insist. It's a dream or the hangover and you don't understand. Kara Thrace loves Lee Adama. That's not something that goes away.

But there she is. With Anders. She's having a hard time breaking things off, his mind pleads, she's waiting for the right moment to tell Sam the truth. He's sure of it, until she looks at him. He knows this face; it’s the same one she wore when she told him she and Zak were getting married. This moment is too at odds with last night and he closes his eyes, trying to will the world backward, to her in his arms and the certainty that Kara would be his, forever.

Sam is talking. Kara proposed. It’s like a bullet from her gun, tearing through him.

“It was your idea.” Gods, she's ruined it. He just wants to go back, reality is strangling him and hatred fills him as he realizes all the things she's taken away. The whole future.

He can't even look at her, this woman who was screaming out his name to the stars just hours ago.

The world is a cold hell this morning.

He walks away.

*

Kara’s hope for her marriage lasts until she sees Lee's face, until she realizes what it means that he admitted he needed her and she’s broken his heart as violently as anyone could. She can't even speak she wants so badly to cry for him, for both of them. He's mean because it's all that's holding him together, and even though she knows it, the hatred in his eyes is brutal.

As Lee walks away, Sam's fingers dance lightly up her arm. “Want to go find somewhere to consummate this thing?” he murmurs in her ear.

Kara forces a smile. “I think maybe a shower is in order first, for one of us.”

He chuckles. “You don't like the smell of me fresh from being passed out on the ground?”

She leans up to kiss him. “I love it. But this time it's about our marriage.”

He looks at her a little quizzically. “You really believe in this stuff.”

She nods. “I do. I prayed to the gods to keep you alive, to bring us back together. I believe.”

Sam smiles. “I guess I do too, then. We'd better shower.”


Kara makes sure they dally with more kissing until the raptor to Pegasus has flown off in the distance. Then they head deeper into the settlement and find a common bathroom. Sam groans about the gendered showers the civilians use, but Kara makes no protest.

She strips down in the narrow stall, surveying her body. Her night with Lee has left no visible trace, although that hardly seems right. Kara closes her eyes, suddenly wishing Sam were with her. Don't look back, she commands herself, and turns on the water, scrubs the sand out of her hair, the sweat off her skin.

But the look in his eyes

As she washes them away, Kara relives Lee's caresses: the touch of his hands, his lips, the weight of his body on hers. Her body flushes with heat just remembering. Gods. She locks the night away inside herself where she's always stored her memories of him. The one last inviolable place she has.

She doesn't let herself think about what he’s feeling right now.

And then she dries her eyes along with the rest of her and dresses, takes her husband down by the riverside where their hapless admiral and former president have left a convenient blanket, and makes love to him.

*

Kara and Sam make several trips between Galactica and the planet in the week after their wedding, as they build their temporary home and Kara fills Helo in on the details of being CAG that he'll be taking on in her absence. Though many pilots and knuckledraggers look surprised by news of her marriage, Helo is the only one whose speculative glance makes Kara squirm. But eventually he nods and says he knows Anders has meant a lot to her, that he's glad she got him back. And Kara nods, because she honestly is too.


Her last load of belongings is stowed in storage and Sam is already down on the planet as Kara prepares to leave Galactica. The prospect of living on the ground after so long in space is thrilling and she says her farewells to the pilots with only a hint of sadness.

And yet when she sees Lee across the hangar deck, over from Pegasus for whatever reason, all thought of Sam and New Caprica slips her mind and Kara's grinning so hard it hurts. He loves her. For just a second she's giddy.

“Starbuck!” Tigh barks off to the side, and her expression goes blank as she turns, remembering. How she doesn't want to ruin Lee’s life or get him killed; how she couldn't survive without him; how she broke his heart already. When she looks back Lee's heading toward the corridor to C-deck, and in spite of it all, she follows him.

“Hey, Lee,” she calls after him as they reach an empty stretch of hallway.

He turns to her, reacting for a moment as strongly as she did, as strongly as the night they met. Then he withdraws. “What do you want?”

Words fail her for a moment. “I'm just--I'm heading down. Going away party was yesterday, got my nice little plaque, hugs and handshakes all around.” She hesitates over the last two words. “Missed you.”

He snorts in disbelief. “Well, you got everything else you wanted. That should be enough.”

Starbuck takes over, her old defense. Her tone turns to mocking “And you've got Dee, I hear she's quite something.”

“Don't even talk about her,” Apollo snaps.

“Feeling guilty?”

He shakes his head. “Frak you.”

Kara grimaces as he turns away. She doesn't know what she expected. She picked Zak, before, and he never said anything. Though she knows all the ways this is different.

“Lee,” she tries again, and he stops but doesn't turn back to her. Something about his posture radiates pain and she can't breathe. She wants to comfort him, wants him to comfort her. It’s irrational and she has no right to it, but she broke her own heart when she broke his, and she can’t tell her husband that. She meant everything she said that night, just as much as he did.

He speaks to the bulkhead beyond them. “If you changed your mind, Kara, you should have told me.”

There are tears in his voice and she can't stand it. For a moment Kara can't speak. Then she tries. “I--”

Lee turns back, not wanting to hear the apology on her lips. “It was the best night of my life, Kara,” he finally growls at her, and the words are not romantic but cruel. “And you took that away.” He sees her flinch and presses on. “You did exactly what you did after Zak died. Here I was thinking, again, that you loved me, and then you got scared or whatever it is you get and you ran as far the hell away as you could. Again!” He shakes his head at her in disgust. “You said once that Zak was the only one who saw you as whole. Well, you were right. I always knew you were broken. I guess I just never knew how badly.”

With that he turns and strides away, leaving her alone.

As she flies down to New Caprica, her ties to Galactica fall away. She'll see the old man again, and Helo, and even Tigh. And she and Lee are dead to each other, so it's a good thing Kara has a fresh start all lined up. She doesn’t look back.

Date: 2012-11-03 07:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ez-as-pi.livejournal.com
*sobs incoherently*

Date: 2012-11-03 10:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ez-as-pi.livejournal.com
In all seriousness, this was great. Just brought back all those feelings. Well done!

Date: 2012-11-04 02:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] embolalia.livejournal.com
Thank you! I outlined most of it when I was still new to the show, so it comes from that place of total angst :)

Date: 2012-11-03 08:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kdbleu.livejournal.com
I must admit that canon compliant is not usually my thing (mostly because I've seen canon so I like the tweaks for a different story) but you always manage to tweak canon just enough that it's interesting, that I want to know how things change even if I know they're going to resolve back to angst. Thank you for that.

I particularly love in this that Kara relies on Lee's belief that they can have a future in this. Fascinating twist.

Date: 2012-11-03 10:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] embolalia.livejournal.com
Thank you! There is a lot I still want to explore in all those months between New Caprica and the Dance, from there to Eye of Jupiter, and EOJ to Maelstrom. Some day, when I have all the writing time in the world... :) So glad you liked this!

Date: 2012-11-03 08:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] velvety2010.livejournal.com
Ugh. So sad...

Date: 2012-11-03 10:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] embolalia.livejournal.com
They always are :(

Date: 2012-11-03 11:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fragrantwoods.livejournal.com
I love Bill seeming disappointed, then his love for her takes over and he just wants her to be happy, even if he doesn't understand it.Kara putting Lee aside so she won't have to lose him...so sad. This makes their arc here make sense so much more than it did on the show.

Date: 2012-11-04 02:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] embolalia.livejournal.com
Ah, Bill, what a stoner :P I'm glad this makes sense! It was in part an exploration of how I could understand Kara's actions. Thanks!

Date: 2012-11-04 07:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bluuefiire.livejournal.com
I just watched the extended version of UB last night, had been a long time since I'd seen it and I'd forgotten how raw the pain is. the extended version is SO much better. Breaks my heart EVERY time.

This was great, same rawness to the pain and same sadness. I liked how you explained the 'reason' Kara left Lee that morning, in my head there have been different ones, but the good intentions gone wrong, broke my heart yet again.

Date: 2012-11-05 12:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] embolalia.livejournal.com
Thank you! I remember watching it the first time and needing to find some way to explain Kara's actions. Glad this made sense :)

Date: 2012-11-04 09:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] justascrewup2.livejournal.com
Utterly heartbreaking, but oh so good. Our poor pilots! This is why I am such a fan of AU....because they never could get it right in canon. *sniffle*

Date: 2012-11-05 12:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] embolalia.livejournal.com
Thank you! They never do :(

Date: 2012-11-05 12:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] koolaidmom11.livejournal.com
Uggghhh...I really need to stop reading this stuff. Just makes me sad all over again. This was lovely and as usual...I blame Tigh and his stupid advice.

Can't wait for more

Date: 2012-11-05 11:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] embolalia.livejournal.com
There won't be more for a while, but I'm glad you're hooked! Thanks for reading :D

Date: 2012-11-05 06:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cosetteferaud.livejournal.com
It's been a while since I read canon-compliant fic and damn, this was very hurty. Kara and Lee always make me so sad, but I guess that's part of their charm ;) Besides, this was really well done as usual!

Date: 2012-11-05 11:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] embolalia.livejournal.com
It's their habit, at least ;) Thank you!

Date: 2012-12-26 03:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] damao2010.livejournal.com
I've read this before and , sadly, didn't comment (shame on me, I know). Reading it again today, I am torn between two opposing emotions. On one hand, it's is so true to them, in the worst, most gutting way. I love it for it. On the other hand, it is so gutting, I keep looking for the link to the next part. You know, the one where you fix it ! It just breaks my heart.

On a side note, I loved that Bill was not so clueless after all. It's a shame he didn't give her his own piece of advice, though. If Tigh's was able to do so much damage, maybe his could have helped prevent this whole mess. Oh, Bill...

Date: 2012-12-26 04:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] embolalia.livejournal.com
Well, in theory, if I ever finish the book I'm writing, there may be more...it's just a huge project to take on! I'm glad you liked this :)

Date: 2012-12-27 01:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] flybynight00.livejournal.com
Gah, feeling so gutted now. Beautifully written.

Date: 2012-12-28 03:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] embolalia.livejournal.com
Thank you!

Date: 2012-12-27 08:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rdave1.livejournal.com
*sobs* Good god I forgot how frakked up these two were and how they could not only rip each other's hearts apart but mine too! Fantastically heartbreaking!

Date: 2012-12-28 03:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] embolalia.livejournal.com
SO frakked up, the little dears :) Thank you!

Date: 2013-01-08 06:34 am (UTC)
lanalucy: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lanalucy
Oh, this is just heartbreaking, perhaps the more so because it's canon-compliant. Kara, Kara, Kara.....

Date: 2013-12-05 03:33 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
uh what was the point of this??
Its the episode all over nothing new, nothing differnt. Just a purge I guess.
What are you saying here- kara is deluded?? fucked up?? LEE is dead to her because of what SHE did. Lee did nothing wrong but pays the price. But - This just has nothing new to say, all most like a review. sorry just the way i see it

Date: 2013-12-05 04:02 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I think at some point if Lee had stepped up and called Kara out on her shit instead of just - oh i don't know shutting down and pining away in silence, things might have gone a little different. I think i can say with confidence that if that had been done to me, if I had shared something like the night Lee & Kara shared with someone and said those things to each other, I would not have just taken it in silence like Lee did. I never got that and I never will get it. I think most people would have screamed, yelled, fought wand got right up in her face, but suffer in silence while she did the most hurtful thing humanly possible?? NO....FRACKIN.....WAY.As a minimum I woul have told her in front of everyone that if what you did is how you treat someone you love, well your new husband iis now in hell. Again I think in large part this is partially Lee's fault for not only taking this lying down but later accepting what little scraps Kara deigned to give him. The little post marriage affair comes to mind. When Kara said she could not leave sam because its a sin (like adultery is not!!) Kara always ran elsewhere when times were good. Its only when her terrible decisions and mistakes caught up with her, when she wanted comfort and shelter from her pain that she was running to Lee

Date: 2013-12-05 04:49 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Hey Em, it's Liz...just not logged in...

This is fabulous. So much angst within our pilots!! I love what you did with Kara's thought process...so typical trying to protect Lee from herself and hurting him in the process. Thanks for fleshing out her interactions with Bill and Saul. Brought back all the emotion of UB/UBEX for sure while adding your personal touch. Lovely. :)

Date: 2013-12-05 06:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] embolalia.livejournal.com
Thanks, hon! This was mostly my effort right after watching to come up with some motive I could make sense of for her :) Glad you liked it!

Date: 2013-12-08 04:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] newnumbertwo.livejournal.com
Oh, this is so hurty. I love this explanation for Kara's choice. Love the unexpected bond between Kara and Tigh too. And the wedding and how giddy Bill and Laura are, that Kara almost things she can be happy too.

Then the thud with Lee, the realization of what her choice will mean for all of them.

Such a lovely look at this point in canon. And so very sad.

♥ ♥ ♥


Date: 2014-02-21 07:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] matt vollaro (from livejournal.com)
Papadama was really clueless!! I mean how could he not see it on Lees face. As for the author? I cant see how anybody could UNDERSTAND what Kara did.
It was far beyond beyond cruel and certainly beyond any justification. Wacky nutso that you made her she still wanted to get a dig in because of Lee's thing with Dee, because Lee didnt fall down and die! But when you do things like that. The gods watch an then they render justice. Most of her farce of a marriage was spent with Leoben. Fortunately Lee eventually gathered the courage to cut her loose and never ever let himself get used. Hurt, yes. Used, no.. She had no excuse, not tigh, not war, not her past. what she did she did for self. Kara was selfish and she was a coward and in spite of the somewhat sputtering and fits and starts, all her sad pathetic faces and jealous, looks and "youre good at thinking" nonsense that they maintained they were never the same. SHE destroyed them. She could nt even make it work with Sam. Cluelesssilly Sam of all people. she never even had the courage to ask him to forgive her. I always felt that "god" basically taking her life and using her to get humanity to earth was a punishment for the hateful things she did and tried to justify as "love". She might of been poofed at the end but I doubt someone who was as wantonly and needlessly hateful and tried to blame it on naything & everything but her own selfishness ws granted "peace"
Edited Date: 2014-02-21 07:07 am (UTC)

Date: 2014-02-22 04:03 am (UTC)
lanalucy: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lanalucy
I just reread this and wanted to comment again. I didn't mention the first time that I really loved getting this glimpse into Kara's head. In canon, we know what happened, but are never really told why - what went through Kara's head to make her decision seem right to her. I also loved getting inside Lee's head - the expression on his face when Bill tells him the news tells me nearly everything, but I loved the build-up to it, him making excuses for why she'd have disappeared from their tryst. It made the blow so much more hard to accept.

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