wisteria (wisteria_) wrote,
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BSG fic: "Essential"

Wow, I don't think I've ever written this fast. Really. Over twenty pages in one day, when it usually takes me a week to manage that. But damn, once I got started, I couldn't stop. I *heart* my fucked-up girl.

So. Here's my entry into the soon-to-be-overdone BSG finale fic sweepstakes. ;) Big spoilers for LDYB2, of course. I had SO much fun writing this, and I hope you enjoy it!

Title: "Essential"
Rating: R
Word count: 6,326
Characters: Kara/Anders, Kara/Lee
Spoilers: Through 2.20
Summary: She swatted his leg and stretched out on the blanket. Stared up at the dark sky until three familiar pinprick-lights streaked across. Starbuck closed her eyes.


Essential
by wisteria



Effective immediately, all non-essential military personnel are required to report to New Caprica, in order to aid in Colonization efforts. Duty status shall be determined by ranking officers. Non-compliance will result in indefinite detention at the Colonial Government's discretion.

– Gaius Baltar, President of the Colonies



+++++


She ignored the proclamation. She was essential.

She flew CAP and filed paperwork and frakked Samuel blind. All good. She waved at the colonists through the viper's window.

On the fourth day, Anders met her on the deck after patrol. She climbed out of the cockpit and threw herself at him. He smelled like recycled water and sex, and she loved it.

Then she noticed the official paper in his hands. He shrugged. "I’m non-essential personnel. Hell, I'm not even personnel."

She blinked. "Oh."


+++++


Adama wouldn’t look up at her. "We'll be operating with a skeleton crew. I think we can manage without you."

"Excuse me? Why?"

Instead of answering, he offered her a cigarette. She crushed it and dumped the tobacco flakes on his desk blotter. "Frak you, Admiral."

He still wouldn't meet her eye. She stomped out – yeah, it was stupid, but she didn't give a damn – and found a raptor to take her to Pegasus.

It all made a frakked-up kind of sense, though. She'd always thought of Adama like a father. But then, her real dad had left her, too.


+++++


Both of them were barefoot. Kara didn't know why that struck her as being so odd, but it did. She glared over at Dee, who went back to shuffling papers like the Commander's quarters were her second home.

Lee stood up, but he didn't walk toward her. "What's up, Kara?"

"Adama's shipping me off to the colony."

He actually looked surprised by the news. "Fill out your transfer paperwork, and send it over for me to sign. I'll shuffle the rotation to free up a spot for you."

"Thanks."

"No problem."

She started to leave before remembering something else. "Hey, I’m also going to need enlistment papers for Anders. Don't think he'll make a good pilot, but I can probably whip him into an ECO."

That caught Lee's attention. He opened his mouth, closed it, and then sighed. "Sorry, Starbuck. If I'm going to be running this ship with a tenth of the crew, I need to keep the people I already have."

"Excuse me?" Fists clenched, throat tightened, but she managed to keep something close to calm. "Me and Samuel – we're a package deal."

"I thought we were –" Then he looked away again.

"We were what?"

He just shook his head. Dee walked back over to him, standing there like they were a package deal, too. And though she didn't know exactly what it was, something in Kara's chest popped.

"Forget it."

"Kara –"

"It's okay. I'll work it out." She managed a convincing smile and a wink at the two of them. "Hey, Dee? Next time you get his pants off, grab his ass. He likes that."

She didn't look over her shoulder for their reaction as she closed the hatch behind her.


+++++


At first, they didn't have much to talk about, but they got over that pretty fast. Alcohol helped for a while, and soon they didn't even need to get drunk anymore. And it was good. Really. He was fun. She liked him. She hoped maybe this would work out, after all.

Nowhere else for him to go on Galactica, so he hung out in the rack. When she walked in and tossed him a box, he caught it with one hand, and that made her laugh.

"Make yourself useful and start packing."

Sam stared at her. "You're leaving?"

"Yup." She looked away.

A pause that lasted longer than it should've, then he said, "I thought you were gonna stay here on the ship while I –"

"Well, I'm not. Okay?"

Samuel tossed the box up like it was a pyramid ball. His lips curled into a smile. "You'd give all this up for me?"

No. Because Adama doesn't want me here, and Lee doesn't seem to give a damn either. Because I can take a hint. Because anything's better than frakking pointless CAPs and skeleton crews and going through the motions. Because there's nothing left for me here. Because you want me, Samuel, and the minute you stop wanting me, I can come back home again.

Kara shrugged. "Yeah, it's all for you, moron, so you'd damn well better be worth it."

He laughed and grabbed her hand, yanking her in for a kiss. That was good, too. Then she pulled away and opened her locker. Too much crap for a box, but she tossed it over to him, anyway.

She glanced up at the photo of her and the Brothers Adama. A deep breath while she tried not to think about it, then she tugged it loose and folded back the half with Lee's picture. She slipped it into her pocket while Samuel folded her shirts.


+++++


Kara scheduled their departure for 0600. A half-hour before the Admiral usually got up. Two hours before the first daily Pegasus shuttle. Not that she expected the Adamas to throw her a going-away party, but she didn't want to take the chance.

So, of course Lee would be there in the Head when she went in for one last hot shower.

"Why the frak are you doing this, Kara?" he blurted out before the hatch was closed.

She pulled her tanks over her head. He'd seen it all before; might as well give him one last show. "I woke up this morning and thought, gee, wouldn't it be fun to live in a tent? A whole new world to make my bitch."

"Don't pull that crap with me." He stepped closer, closer, until she felt his breath on the back of her neck. "What is wrong with you?"

"Nothing is wrong with me, Commander Adama. I'm non-essential personnel. You and the Admiral made that perfectly clear."

His audible gasp slid down her spine, but she kept her shoulders high. "Gods, Kara." His voice was low. Heavy. "You're the most essential person here."

She wanted to shout back at him, but what was the point? So she stripped naked and walked over to the showers. He followed, boots clicking on the metal floor. She waited for him to say something, anything, but he was way too quiet. She didn't like that. Better that way, though.

When she reached up to pull the curtain back, his hand curled over hers. "Don't go."

She closed her eyes. "I have to."

"No."

Stalemate. She wanted to get in the shower and yank the curtain closed behind her, but she couldn't move. And she thought about how easy it would be to just frak him right here. Go down on him then pull him inside her, finally finish that damn night off once and for all. It'd shut him up. Make him realize this wasn't all it was cracked up to be.

"So you're just going to give up on flying? On all this?"

Gods. Frak him for putting it that way. But it wasn't unexpected, and she had an answer ready. "What's left for me here, anyway? Flying laps around this pathetic planet while I save humanity from the horrors of meteor showers? Screw that. They need me down there. Samuel needs me."

"He isn't worth it."

She finally looked over her shoulder at him, then she wished she hadn't. That look in his eyes – shit, she hated him for that. So she curled her lips into something like a smile as she said, "I love him."

It worked.

Lee just stared at her until she gave up and stepped backward into the shower stall, pulling the curtain closed. She turned the spray high enough to drown out whatever else he might stay, and she stood there long enough for him to be gone.


+++++


It was cold. Wet. The days were long. The dust smelled like rotten eggs. But there were no trees or Cylons or farms. She loved that part.

They pitched a tent near the stretch some people were turning into a market. Six hours later, Samuel had put up a pyramid court down the block. She started to yell at him not to waste the metal, but then he leaned in close. "When everyone else is asleep, we can play naked."

She laughed loud enough to make strangers turn and stare.


+++++


Too dusty to lie out there naked, though, so he ran to the tent and brought back one of her old blankets from the ship. She pressed it close to her face and breathed.

Samuel's arm felt warm on her bare shoulders. "Love you," he muttered.

She swatted his leg and stretched out on the blanket. Stared up at the dark sky until three familiar pinprick-lights streaked across.

Starbuck closed her eyes.


+++++


He joined one of the construction crews. Said he liked bashing shit up. She fell in with the welders and quickly ran the joint. All those sparks warmed her, got under her skin. Nothing to think about – just push and pull at the metal until it gave way under her hands.

Five weeks in, the wind started. Blew dust into their eyes and lungs. She coughed and kept welding. Then one of the others lost control of the blowtorch and burned a swath across the backs of both Kara's legs.

She screamed. She didn't stop, even after the medic dressed the wounds.

Sam quit his job and stayed with her for the next week. Changed the makeshift bandages and brewed tea. She suspected he'd drugged her, too. Everything was blurry, even more than usual.

She couldn't breathe.

"Get the frak out of here."

He just smirked. "You're stuck with me, bitch."

When he brought back some crutches and swatted her arm with one, she looked away.


+++++


She was used to hobbling, but that had been on corrugated metal floors instead of dirt. Still, she managed. As usual.

She did laps back and forth down the market street until she only needed one crutch. Legs hurt like hell, but she ground her teeth and kept going. When people smiled and waved, she smiled and waved back. After a while, it got easier.

Loud noises inside the schoolroom tent. Kara stopped and glanced inside. The pres – Laura Roslin was leading the kids in a math lesson. One raised his hand and said, "Ten minus three equals six."

Kara muttered, "Seven."

Roslin looked over at her and waved. "Want to join us?"

She narrowed her eyes then laughed. "Those kids are way too young to know the stuff I could teach 'em."

More laughter until things got awkward and the lesson resumed. Kara looked at the kids for another long moment, then muttered, "Poor bastards," as she hobbled away.


+++++


She went back to welding. Sam went back to construction. Both of them got way too tired to play pyramid anymore, but he forced her to anyway. "Don't want you to get all soft on me, babe."

"Don't call me 'babe'." She slammed the ball off the backboard hard enough to tip over.

He glared at her, but his lips twitched. "Why not, babe?"

"Frak you."

"Is that a promise or a threat?"

She kicked his ass all over the dirty court. When they finally stumbled back to the tent, she let him frak her nice and slow. Cold bed, but he was warm. "I love you," she muttered, and she thought maybe she meant it.

Sam looked up at her and grinned. "Love you too, babe."

She was too tired to correct him.


+++++


One month faded into two faded into three and so on. She stopped checking the night sky for the vipers' lights.


+++++


She started attending the weekly prayer services at the open-air temple. The priest would stare up at the sky as he chanted. He said the prayers all wrong – typical stick-up-his-ass Geminon – but they were still prayers. Kara chanted her own.

Once in a while, Tyrol led the service. Awkward at first, then he started showing a real flair for it. More people attended the services when he was there. Cally stood next to him, her belly getting larger every week. They were almost cute, and Kara didn't feel like mocking them anymore.

Sometimes Sam came with her. Sometimes he didn't. He never said the prayers – just stood there and held her hand. She laced her fingers with his and leaned into his shoulder.

She brought her idols to work one afternoon. Stared at them for a long time before lighting her blowtorch. They were just little metal statues. Nothing more. The colonists needed the metal.


+++++


Seeing Roslin step into the tent was a surprise. She glanced around and said, "Nice place."

Kara shrugged. "It's home. Too bad Sam does a pathetic job of cleaning it."

"Hey! I'm not wearing that frilly little apron, so just shut up about that, already."

The three of them laughed a little while Roslin smiled and shifted on her feet. "I have a proposal for you, Captain Thrace."

Kara started to say she wasn't a captain anymore, but the words stuck in her throat. So she nodded and waited.

"The man Baltar appointed as the colonists' military liaison is – well, I don't trust him. I'd like for you to take over."

"Excuse me?" She stood up, wincing as her scarred legs brushed across the chair. "I'm not going back up there, President. My life is here now. Me and Sam – we're doing just fine."

Roslin's eyes narrowed the way they used to back in the old days. "You know how to deal with the military. Javarii doesn't. The Colony needs you."

She opened her mouth to shout out an objection, but the other woman cut her off. "I trust you, Captain."

Sam stood up and walked over to the President. "She's right, Kara. It's, what, a couple of trips a month? C'mon, you can do that."

Kara took a deep breath and ignored that strange electricity snaking up her spine. "Fine. Whatever."


+++++


Baltar didn't even look up at her and Roslin. Just signed the paperwork and reached for a medicine bottle. "You'll meet with the Galactica command every fortnight. The next shuttle is in two days."

Couldn't breathe in that filthy, ugly place, so she kept her mouth shut until they were back on solid ground. Roslin finally turned to her and smiled. "Thank you."

They stared at each other for a moment, then Kara suddenly pulled her into a tight hug. It felt good.


+++++


She didn't know what to expect, so she kept herself from expecting anything. Racetrack made small talk on the raptor flight up, but Kara noticed how she wouldn't mention any familiar names. So she just stared out the front screen and wondered how the hell Racetrack was "essential personnel" but Captain Kara frakking Thrace wasn't.

Nothing about the hangar deck felt familiar, and she was almost glad of that. Made this whole day a hell of a lot easier to get through. Instinctively turned toward the Admiral's office, but then stopped short at Tigh's approach.

"Adama's over at the Pegasus today. You'll be meeting with me."

She glared back at him by force of habit, but he didn't glare back. That was the second cue that something had changed. Then he actually smiled at her. "Never thought I'd see you back here again, Starbuck."

All of a sudden, she really wanted to laugh, so she did. "Never thought I'd be back here again."

He walked her back to his small office, avoiding the CIC for reasons she didn't much care to think about. They took their places across the desk as she unfolded the list of questions and concerns that she, Tyrol, and Roslin had prepared last night.

They argued back and forth like the old days, but by the second hour she realized she didn't hate him anymore. And by the third hour, he almost felt like a friend.

When the intercom buzzed to announce the return shuttle, he stood up and shook her hand. "Looks like life's treating you well down there on that rock."

Kara just shrugged. "It's a life."


+++++


Sam got better at cleaning. She got better at cooking. They were so frakking domestic that it made her teeth hurt.

She started taking long jogs while he played endless, pointless pyramid tournaments. He never asked where she went – just handed her a towel to wipe her face when she got home.

She wanted to fight him, punch him, make it count. But there wasn't much to fight about, so she started coming up with stupid things. He'd just agree that she was right, that she was the smart one, and laugh it off. She got bitchier and bitchier so that he could hate her – fight with her – but he never took the bait.

And when it got really bad, when she wanted to beat him up just to get a rise out of him, she'd catch herself and take off into the distance. Past the settlements and rotting ships and into the straggling trees where Cylons couldn't hide.

Sometimes she'd bring along a gun, like it was a frakking security blanket. The clip stayed full, though. She never had anything to shoot.


+++++


The biweekly trips up into space became a routine. One of the few things she really looked forward to. Tigh always had a full bottle of ambrosia for them, and they'd start stupid arguments, just because.

On the sixth mission, she noticed Racetrack steering the raptor away from Galactica. Before Kara could ask what was going on, Racetrack said, "Commander Adama wanted to meet with you this time. Something about a load of supplies they've got ready to send down to the colony."

Kara swallowed hard. That feeling in her gut wasn't dread at all. It'd be good to see him again. It'd been way too long.


+++++


Everything fell apart the second she opened the hatch.

She was tired and frustrated, and there he was, just standing there in the middle of his office with a strange look on his face. She opened her mouth to say something, except she didn't have a clue what to say. So she walked over and wrapped her arms around him, because it'd been months and she'd missed him and, gods, it was Lee.

He whispered something that might not have been words, then his hand slipped under her shirt. Should pull away, sit down at his desk and go over the item agenda, get back to normal while they could still be friends. But he pulled her closer, closer, and his lips were warm on her neck and oh.

They didn't make it over to the bed.

His hands coursed up and down her back as she rode him slowly, his body soft against the sofa cushions. It was too much to feel, too frakking much, but it washed over her until she couldn't breathe, couldn't do anything but rise and fall onto him. When his lips curled into something that might've been a smile, might've been pain, she leaned down to kiss him so she wouldn't see that look in his eyes. The same look she hadn't wanted to see months ago when they'd still been friends. The one that was probably all over her face, too.

And when it was over, she felt him curl himself around her there on the sofa in the Commander's quarters, his hand pressed into her belly, just above where something inside was breaking.

"I missed you."

"Lee –"

"Come home."

That finally broke her, brought her back to her frakking senses. She shot up off the sofa and scrabbled for her clothes. Wouldn't look back at him as she dressed herself, just closed her eyes and pictured Sam back down there in that tent. "I've already got a home," she growled, voice scraping her throat.

She wanted to get the hell out of there, but she drew herself up straight and kept her chin high. Walking out would be weak, and she was not weak.

So she pulled out her agenda and began reciting the items as he pulled his clothes back on. He wouldn't look up at her, energy crackling around him like it always had, even when he'd seemed so mild. She hoped he'd hit her with those clenched fists, because then it'd mean she could leave without looking back.

But he didn't. He just stared at her with his uniform jacket hanging open, and he slowly shook his head.

"Gods, Kara. Who the hell are you now?"

"I'm the liaison from the –"

"No, damn it!" Fists scrubbed at his face. "This isn't you. You're not ordinary."

"Frak you, Commander."

They stood there, waiting for the fight to start. Except it didn't, and that just made her both crazy and sad. Time to end this frakking charade. It'd gone on way too long. Wasn't healthy for either of them. She had a life down in New Caprica. He didn't need her hurting him anymore.

"Look, it's been six months. We got stupid just now. Let's forget it ever happened."

He blinked. His fists uncurled.

Finally, he muttered, "Sometimes I really hate you, Kara."

No point in staying anymore. She shoved the list back in her pocket and nodded. "Yeah. You should."

She walked out of the office and straight to the hangar deck. She didn't say another word until she was back at home.


+++++


She spent the next three days in bed with Sam. They did things she'd never even realize the body could do. She frakked him until he stopped talking, stopped asking her why she was acting so different.

She said, "I love you, Sam," over and over.

It was good. Really. It was.

She skipped the next scheduled Galactica briefing. Worked until the sun went down, then played pyramid with Sam and the guys until her entire body ached.

Three weeks after it happened, she realized she hadn't gotten her period yet. Rubbed under her arm for the subcutaneous implant, felt it still there, hopefully still working. And when she finally saw the blood in her underwear one afternoon, she exhaled in relief and cried for the first time in months.


+++++


Someone opened a bar at the other end of the market street. The swill from Tyrol's rigged-up kit barely qualified as alcohol, but nobody gave a damn. The place got so packed that Harper joked about setting up a waiting list.

She and Sam commandeered their own bar stools. All the alcohol made talking to him easy again. They laughed and drank and told everyone the same stupid jokes they'd all heard too many times before.

People practically flocked over to them, and she noticed that edge in their voices when they'd say "Starbuck and Anders are here," as if they were frakking celebrities or something. It felt good, though. Better than blending into the beige crowd. So she started telling more stories about all those viper dogfights, and she made Sam recount his entire first season with the C-Bucks, even though she knew he was totally shitting them about those eight points he'd scored in the first round of the playoffs. But the crowd ate it up, and the next night it became nine points, along with a hat-trick.

She ate up the attention with a godsdamned spoon.

Kara Thrace was not ordinary.

One night, Harper needed the extra bar stool, so she climbed up on Sam's lap and stayed there. Someone nearby called out, "Why haven't you two gotten married, anyway?"

A huge roar of laughter, and Kara's breath froze until she realized Sam was laughing too.

She was drunk, yeah, but it made sense. So she wrapped her arms around his neck and crooned, "Wanna marry me, Sammy?"

He slapped her ass. "Why the hell not?"

She kissed him long and hard as the crowd cheered. She wrestled the ring off her thumb and slipped it into her pocket.


+++++


They got married in the middle of the frakking pyramid court. It was stupid and so damned sentimental that it made her want to scream, but Sam loved the idea, and she loved him.

Just him and her. The priest. Tyrol and Cally as witnesses. He stared at her for a long moment before offering a hand and "Congratulations. I hope you two are happy."

She looked up at Sam and decided that yeah, she was happy. Nothing to it. She'd learned a long time ago that "simple" wasn't a bad thing at all.


+++++


No simple gold bands down in New Caprica, so they all made do with what they had.

Sam held her hand as Starks etched a tattoo onto her arm. The ancient symbol of the bird rising from the ashes. Her husband traced the same pattern on her other arm. "Now you've got wings again, so you can fly."

She rolled her eyes. "Gods, when did you turn into a frakking poet?"

He just laughed until Starks tapped her shoulders. "Turn over so I can do the other arm."

Kara sat up and picked at the bandage covering the tattoo. A long look at Anders, then she turned to face the woman with the needle. "No, my husband's getting the other wing."

"I'm not a pilot, Kara."

They stared at each other, and she refused not to think about Lee. No.

She pasted on her brightest smile. "Nah, but you're all mine, so take off your damn shirt."


+++++


"So the great Starbuck got herself married. I'll be damned." Tigh growled for a second before bursting into a smile that, well, shocked the hell out of her. Even more shocking was the way he patted her shoulder. It was weird, but it wasn't entirely bad.

She laughed and clinked their ambrosia tumblers together. "Figured I should stake my claim on him before someone else did."

"Good thing Ellen hasn't been down on New Caprica, huh?" But there wasn't any darkness in his eyes, and she wondered what the frak had happened to him in the past nine months. Not that she was complaining. These meetings were easier when they could laugh instead of bitching at each other. She'd take that.

They'd gotten things down to a routine, going over the list of Colonist questions and concerns with a minimum of bickering or argument. By the time they were finished, she still had another hour before the return shuttle was scheduled to leave. So she poured them another round and leaned back in the chair.

He swirled the liquid in his glass, then gave her an odd look. "What the hell did you do to piss off Apollo?"

Kara nearly choked. "Excuse me?"

"He was scheduled to be here today, but when he found out that you were coming, he went off on a rampage over the comms. Don't think I've ever heard him pull that crap before. Even Adama didn't know why he was acting like that."

She took another sip, longer this time. "Guess he's still mad that I went down to New Caprica."

Tigh shrugged. "I don't know what's gotten into him. He makes your days up here look like a frakkin' party."

Kara didn't know what the hell to say about that, so she finished off her glass. But a new thought crept into her brain, and she blurted it out. "Hey, why didn't Adama sign my Essential Personnel status papers way back then?"

"Oh, right. I remember that." Tigh refilled his tumbler. "You were at the top of his list, but then that husband of yours told him that you were better off down there on that rock."

Kara actually felt her heart stop.

He kept talking, but she didn't hear any of it through the pounding in her ears. She muttered something about the return shuttle, then she got the frak out of there.


+++++


The tent was empty when she got home. Good. She tossed some crap into a bag and got the hell out of there.

She started walking, fast and hard, ignoring how the old burn scars chafed. Past the market, the schoolroom, the crumbling ship carcasses. Her pace quickened as she went by Sam's construction site, but she kept walking. Only stopped at the foundry, where she went over to the overseer and told her that she needed a few days off.

Tyrol caught her eye and came over. She didn't want to say anything at all, didn't owe anyone an explanation. But she didn't need a search party coming after her. "I'm heading out for a few days, Chief. If anyone asks, just tell 'em that."

He nodded and started to say something, but she stalked away.

She walked until her legs trembled, until she found the scraggly trees and the wan river. Jumped into the cold water and let her soaked clothes weigh her down. Not long enough to drown, but long enough to feel it under her skin.

The air was cold. It was always so damned cold. But she stripped off her wet clothes and lay down on the riverbank, pine needles and slate rock piercing her skin. She closed her eyes and scratched her tattoo – her frakking wedding tattoo – until she felt it bleed.

She stared up at the trees until the sky darkened, and then until the CAP's lights traced over the sky. Thought long and hard about getting back up there, making Adama reenlist her, going home to vipers and patrols and all those regulations that didn't seem so inane before.

Her body betrayed her by falling asleep. When Kara woke up, the sky was light again. She couldn’t see the viper lights anymore.

And she decided it was pointless, anyway. This was the frakking bed she'd made, even if Anders had tricked her into it. He loved her. She loved him. She looked down at the wing on her arm, then wiped away the dried blood.

She pulled out a clean set of clothes and got herself dressed before the chill made her sick. She walked back out of the woods and past the shuttle ports. Reminded herself of how she failed Zak. How she failed Lee. How she'd frakked up so much of her life because she couldn't make it work.

Sam was her husband, and damn it, she wasn't going to fail again.

When she ducked into the tent, there he was. She sat on the edge of the bed and looked down at him until he awoke. Let him pull her down into a kiss, and when he asked where she'd been, she muttered, "Just needed a break."


+++++


The dust got into everything – their clothes, the bedding, even the sealed containers of dry food. Work was called off due to rain one day, so she gave everything a wipe-down while Sam spent the afternoon at the bar.

Kara got down on her belly and checked under the bed for any stragglers. Then she spotted the box she'd shoved down there when they'd first moved in. And though she knew exactly why looking inside was a very bad idea, she was feeling especially masochistic this morning.

So she pulled it out and dumped it on the mattress, checking first that the tent flaps were closed. A deep breath wasn't enough to stop the tightness in her chest as she looked down at all her old crap from Galactica.

Dog-eared playing cards. That stupid blue dress. Her viper wings and dress greys. A silver engagement ring.

She picked up the photograph of her, Zak, and Lee. Ran her fingers along the edge and stared at it until her eyes stung. Then she carefully placed everything back into the box and shoved it under the bed, even though she knew it all belonged in the incinerator. She wasn't ready for that yet.

She stretched out on the bed and slipped her hand under her shirt. Closed her eyes and pictured Lee's face that day up in his quarters on Pegasus. Felt his skin under hers, the way he'd moved inside her, that look in his eyes that was both beautiful and dangerous. And she told herself it wasn't infidelity because her life with Lee was totally separate from her life with Samuel. That it was okay to remember as long as it was just remembering. It was all just loneliness. She'd get over it. But as the tears started, she let them come.

When her husband stumbled home, she'd long since finished crying. The tent was spotless.


+++++


Another day, another Liaison Report to prepare.

Roslin put her pencil down and looked up. "Is everything okay?"

Some kids chattered in the background; Kara wished they'd come over to ask their teacher a question, because that look on Laura's face suggested things Kara didn't much want to talk about right now. But nobody interrupted, so she smirked and said, "Sorry, just trying to make sense of all this union shit. Where's the Chief when you need him?"

They laughed a little, but then the smiles faded. "All this – we're doing good work here, Kara, but it's hard for me, too."

Something bright coiled in Kara's stomach, so she swallowed it away. "I'm fine. Really."

Laura nodded and went back to the list of concerns. A few minutes later, though, she pressed her hand over Kara's. "If you ever need to talk, I'm here."

Kara took a deep breath. "Thanks." But she didn't feel like talking anymore.


+++++


The haphazardly-rigged electrical wiring began to fray. Kara contacted the President for replacements, but he never answered her requests. Not that she'd suspected otherwise; she'd heard rumors she'd rather not have confirmed.

Tyrol and Choudry tried a dozen ways to fix it. Nothing worked. They showed up at her tent one morning after Sam had gone to work.

"I know that Pegasus has tons of this stuff. They can spare some for us."

She looked up from the stovetop. "I'll put it on my list, but I won't be back up on Galactica for another week."

"We've already exhausted their reserve supply. We need more from Pegasus."

"Fine!" Kara stopped, took a deep breath. "Okay. I'll see what I can do when I'm up there next Thursday."

Choudry stepped forward, all blustery as if he thought she'd actually consider him a threat. "Call up there now. New Caprica can't wait that long."

Another pathetic staring contest, then she gave up and led the way to the old raptor, the men following behind as if they didn't believe she'd do it. Bastards.

As she dialed, she tried to wipe her brain of everything but those damned wires, and she almost succeeded. Dualla became just another voice on the other end of the line, instead of being her ex-best-friend's new girlfriend. And she got so good at it that Lee's voice didn't even make her flinch.

"New Caprica needs as much electrical wiring as the Pegasus can spare."

A long pause. "Fine. I'll send it down on the afternoon shuttle."

"Thank you, Commander."

Then it was over. Easy. Nothing to it. And she didn't think about his voice, didn't imagine what he was up to these days, whether he was happy, or anything else even remotely Lee-related. She was all about the job. Her people needed that.

Choudry and Tyrol smiled at each other and slapped her back. "Thanks, Thrace," one of them said. But of course the ease of it all went to their heads, and soon they'd come to her at least once a week with a request for something that only Pegasus could spare.

She always made the calls without complaint. She never let herself say more than fifty words to him. Easier that way.


+++++


Tory was the first to get sick. She died on a Tuesday night. Laura spoke at her funeral. It was a lovely eulogy.

She stood at the temple for a while after everyone else had left. Sam reached for her hand and laced their fingers together, and she let herself lean into him.

"If I die, I want you to –"

"Shut up!" She yanked her hand free and stumbled back. "You're not going to die, so just shut the frak up."

He crossed his arms and stared at her, the tattoo showing under the edge of his sleeve. He suddenly looked a hundred years older than he ever had before. "C'mon, we're not fooling anyone down here. People are gonna start dying. One of these days, I will, too. Hell, I might get run over by a forklift tomorrow."

She laughed because it was easier than the alternative. "Well, Sammy. If you let yourself get run over by a forklift, then you deserve to die."

"I'm serious, babe." That look in his eyes stopped her from the usual nickname protest. "Anything happens to me, I want you to go back up to Galactica. Start using those wings again."

"New Caprica needs me."

"They need you up there, too."

Kara scrunched up her face and blinked back the sudden, stupid wetness in her eyes. "You won't die, Sam. I won't let you."

Instead of saying something else so totally ridiculous, he walked over and held her tight. "I need you," she whispered into his shoulder. He was Samuel T. Anders, damn it. He would never die. Not him. So she took him back home, and they made love until she felt alive again.


+++++


Two weeks later, he started coughing.

His forehead burned the back of her hand. She made him soup, chilled rags with ice water, tapped rhythms on his chest to loosen the congestion.

He never stopped grinning up at her. She never stopped trying to save him.


+++++


END (1/1)
Tags: bsg, fic
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