Summary: Five times Kara and Lee find each other under the mistletoe, and one time it doesn't nearly destroy their lives. Written for the no_takebacks holiday party!
Hanging the mistletoe is Zak’s favorite tradition. Lee explains over dinner how Zak always hung it when they were little, trying to get Bill and Carolanne to kiss, trying to make things normal. It’s never worked.
That night is the first time they’ve met and Kara’s shy at first, joining Zak and the Adamas at his great-uncle’s cabin in the mountains for Christmas. She and Lee laugh and talk into the night, alight with connection. She doesn’t understand yet, isn’t even trying to, but it’s a high like she’s never known. Just before dawn, long after Zak has fallen asleep on the couch, they find themselves standing at the window watching the snow fall. Lee looks up at the mistletoe Zak put up earlier and shakes his head.
“Afraid of a little tradition?” Kara teases, her heart racing. Their eyes meet; they hold their breath. Lee eases forward, staring at her mouth as Kara tilts her chin up to meet him. His lips cover hers and both of them lean into the kiss, lips parting eagerly. Lee’s hands cup Kara’s face. Then Zak rolls off the couch and wakes with a muttered curse. Kara and Lee break apart, turn away.
They fill the next year with long conversations and jokes and competition. And with longing, late at night, craving in a way they won’t name because it would destroy Zak.
They reach the cabin Christmas Eve, with Zak and Lee’s girlfriend, Ana. As the others head to unpack Lee snatches at Kara’s arm, stopping her just as she passes under the habitual mistletoe. She looks at him in shock, then up, then back.
When she doesn’t pull away Lee jerks her closer, catching her in his arms. Before reason can stop them they’re kissing fiercely, greedily. It’s a kiss that answers every question: Does he want this too? Did she miss me? What would his hands feel like right -
A door closes loudly upstairs.
“Fuck,” Kara pants.
That night they fuck for the first time, in the back of Kara’s truck once the others are asleep, frantic and fast, kisses stifling their moans. It’s the longest night of the year, and afterward they lie together for hours, tangled and tender. As the clouds part and stars appear, Lee shouts his joy to the sky, to the new year and the new world.
Christmas morning Kara and Zak are engaged.
Kara makes it all the way down the aisle without tripping over her dress. Finally she’s at the altar, and she sees it: Zak’s put a sprig of mistletoe in his lapel. Kara can’t breathe. Her eyes leap to Lee, his face hard and bereft.
“I’m sorry,” she whispers to Zak. “I’m so sorry.”
She hikes up her dress so she doesn’t fall and runs, stumbling out of the church and through the parking lot. It’s freezing but she can’t go back, just heads resolutely up the road.
Ten minutes later a car pulls up beside her. Kara doesn’t turn. It pulls over and then Lee is racing up, draping his jacket over her bare shoulders. “Kara?” he breathes. There’s so much he’s asking: is she choosing him? Did she mean it that night after all?
“Lee,” she sighs, and pulls him close, sealing her mouth to his as he warms her in every possible way.
Her hand clenches on his shoulder and her engagement ring digs into her skin. Kara pulls away, gasping, and takes it off, lays it in his hand. “Tell him I’m sorry,” she says. Her eyes say the rest: the words are for Lee, too.
Lee’s heard that she’s on base, of course, that there’s a reckless female fighter pilot drinking and screwing her way through the regiments. It’s been three years since she left Zak at the altar, and he’s only missed her every day. But she doesn’t come to find him, so he leaves her alone.
There’s no leave for Christmas that year, they’re too entrenched. The chaplains do what they can, and there are parties and services. Lee doesn’t think about what she’s doing for all of it until late on Christmas Eve, when there’s a knock at his door.
He opens it to find Kara, looking terrified, clutching in her hand a bit of green paper that’s been twisted into the shape of leaves.
“Is that an olive branch?” Lee asks simply. Kara grins just at the sound of his voice, and he finds himself grinning back.
“Something like that.”
She’s so beautiful, and he’s missed her so much, and he can’t think any further than pulling her through the door and pressing her into the wall, their lips slamming together and their hands tearing at each other’s clothes until they're finally together again.
Afterward she picks up a photo of Ana from the table and her face crumbles. Kara’s voice shakes as she asks the inevitable: “You’re still with her?”
“Starbuck, meet Apollo!” Captain Lenier announces with a wave as she walks into the party. “You two should fly together sometime!”
For a moment they just stare, taking in the changes wrought in the decade since they first met. Kara holds out her hand, chewing on her lip in that familiar nervous way she has. Lee takes it, a smile breaking across his face that he can’t contain. “We have,” he murmurs, and the Captain wanders off.
They’re still holding hands.
“I’ve missed you,” Kara whispers, and he drops her hand, wraps her in his arms like he wants to hold on forever.
“Me, too.” He hesitates, then pulls back and adds, “Ana and I got divorced.”
Kara grins, and the relief in her eyes answers everything.
“Think this party has mistletoe?” he asks.
She laughs, shaking her head, and whispers. “I don’t think we need it.”
They kiss, soft and sure, then with rising passion. It’s finally their time, the bright shiny future they all but ruined for themselves over and over.
“Let’s go,” Kara murmurs, still wrapped up in him. “Maybe we should find some after all.”
Lee laughs with joy, and follows her out into the night.