[identity profile] scifishipper.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] pilots_presents
Title: This Wall Around My Heart (1/2)
Author: [livejournal.com profile] sci_fi_shipper
Summary: An unexpected event forces Lee and Kara to face the past.
Characters/Pairings: Kara/Lee, Bill/Saul, (mentions of Kara/Zak, Bill/Carolanne, and Saul/Ellen)
Rating: NC-17 (Kara/Lee)
Warnings: Infidelity
Beta Thanks: [livejournal.com profile] kdbleu, [livejournal.com profile] lorrainemarker, [livejournal.com profile] aurora_0811 and [livejournal.com profile] taragel (it took a village!)
Author Notes: This fic is an AU set in the Twelve Worlds. I’ve pushed Galactica’s de-commissioning ceremony out by about five years and have changed many characters’ backstories. Enjoy.

Caprica

Captain Kara Thrace sat in the back of a crew transport on her way from the Galactica to the Caprica Base, chewing on a fingernail as she flipped through the pages of the Gemenon Airlines annual report. The report was boring as hell, but the compensation package attached with a staple to the back page made her eyes bug out. In all her musings, she’d never imagined someone might pay her so much money to fly. She slid her fingers over the numbers, not quite an offer, but the salary range highlighted by the recruiting agent who’d contacted her on Galactica just a few days ago.

The call had come as a surprise as she’d worked around the clock with her shipmates to prepare the Galactica for the decommissioning ceremonies. Until then, she hadn’t even really considered what she would do with her life after she left Galactica. She had a bevy of transfer options around the Fleet, but this one, a chance to muster out and lead a civilian life, had grabbed her attention. Hell, she hadn’t even begun to deal with what it would mean to leave Bill and Saul. That thought alone was enough to make her shove the thoughts aside. She’d served with them for four years and their retirement was forming a slowly widening hole in her heart. They were family to her.

Instead, as she sipped whiskey from a small flask, she focused on the good things: living by her own hand, giving orders instead of taking them, six weeks of vacation a year with cash in her pocket. With a small smile, she imagined long days on the beach, visiting Helo who’d left the service two years before. Her eyes glinted with excitement – Helo would be shocked if she mustered out. Just the way she liked it.

“Preparing for planet entry. Please secure your seat belts,” the transport captain’s voice sounded over the ship’s comm and she snapped her eyes to the window seeing familiar constellations around Caprica came into view. With a surprising and painful jolt, a rush of emotions came into her throat. She hadn’t been back to Caprica since Zak’s death. Since Lee. His face rose up in her mind and she pushed it away. No. She couldn’t think of him.

With a hard swallow, she looked away from the window and turned her body towards the man in the seat next to her, her foot hitting hard against his leg.

Beside her, Colonel Saul Tigh snorted and she nudged him hard with her elbow. “Wake up you old bastard. You’re snoring,” she said, eyebrow raised as she waited for him to wake.

The man stirred in his seat but didn’t bother to open his eyes. “Frak off,” he grumbled, and Kara smirked.

“We’ll be on the ground in twenty. Look alive, soldier.” She nudged him again and he opened an eye, scowling at her.

“I should’ve taken another frakking seat,” he grated.

She watched as he sat up anyway, rubbing his face and feeling around his seat for the flask that Kara now held in her hands. His eyes found it and he swiped it away.

Rolling her eyes, she gave him attitude. “Snoozers are losers, sir.”

Saul ignored her and took a long drink. Her brow dipped in concern as she watched him sidelong. Like her, the decommissioning had brought unexpected calls from Caprica. Ellen Tigh, his estranged wife had suddenly popped up from years of silence to insist that he return to Caprica to give her a divorce. After two days of hemming and hawing, Kara and Bill had finally convinced Saul to see her. Even though Kara had her own things to do on Caprica, she’d be planetside if things got messy. And when Ellen came back into Saul’s life, things always got messy.

With a sigh, Kara turned back towards the window and watched the scenery of the glittering Caprica skyline come into view.

***

Delos, Caprica: Thirty-five Hours Later

Lee Adama rubbed his forehead trying to relieve the ache that had slowly formed there over the past hour. The words on the legal brief he was reading began to blur and dropped his pen and leaned back in his chair to let out a tired sigh. A growling emptiness in his stomach and a glance at the clock reminded him that he’d missed dinner yet again.

Pushing the pages of his brief into the case file, Lee rose and stretched his arms over his head, easing the stiffness out of his back. His desk was littered with legal files for cases in various stages of completion. He left them lay where they were, knowing in twelve hours he’d be back again, pouring himself into work as the summer season in Delos continued and tourist after tourist found themselves in need of his legal expertise. Summer was a booming time in this seaside community and in the three years he’d lived here, he’d grown accustomed to the rhythm of the seasons.

Lee slipped a few files into his brief case and stepped away from his desk to cross the room and flick off the light. Closing the door behind him, he stepped through the quiet of the law firm offices and opened the front door, the familiar salty dampness of the ocean air filling his nose. He pulled the wooden door closed behind him and dug in his pocket for his keys.

“Hey, Lee,” he heard a man’s voice call out to him as he locked the door and he turned at the familiar voice.

“Hey, Kyle. How’s it going tonight?” Lee smiled in greeting, glancing around the busy street as his friend, a local police officer, approached, his fingers tucked in his waistband. He was around Lee’s age, approaching thirty with an easy smile and well-built frame. He’d met Kyle at the gym three years prior when he’d first moved to Delos with Gianne to join her uncle’s law firm. He was one of the only friends Lee had made that hadn’t been somehow connected to Gianne, which meant one of the few people he had to talk to now that Gianne was gone.

“The Festival is keeping us busy. Six arrests tonight alone,” the fair-haired officer replied. “Typical Friday night during the summer, right?” He grinned up at Lee with a teasing eye-roll.

“Yeah. I’ve got cases to last until summer’s end.” Lee took the two steps down from the door and glanced past Kyle’s shoulder to see the looming mast of an old schooner docked in Paregoron Bay. His eyes lingered and Kyle turned around to see.

“The Zephyr. She came in this morning. Have you been here since then?” Kyle looked disapprovingly at him. They’d had more than one conversation about Lee’s need to move on after the break up.

Lee smiled sheepishly. “It’s summer and no one wants to spend their vacation in jail. Today’s the day to catch up on last weeks’ work before the next batch of new clients rolls into town tomorrow.”

“So I can assume you won’t be at the fireworks tonight?” Kyle asked.

Lee shook his head and began to walk towards his car parked in the small lot next to his office building. “Nah. I’m going home.”

Kyle sighed. “Well, if you change your mind, I’m off shift in two hours. We can grab a beer.”

Lee pressed the button on his key fob and his car alarm chirped. “Thanks, but I’ll probably go for a run and then hit the sack. Been a long day.” He reached for the door handle and pulled.

“Okay. Take it easy, man.” Kyle said as he stepped back towards the sidewalk. “See you in court.” He gave Lee a toothy grin. Lee lifted his hand to wave goodbye and slid into the car’s low front seat. He turned the key and the engine rumbled to life, purring beneath him. His cell began to ring as he put the car into gear to drive away.

He glanced at the row of unfamiliar numbers on the small lit screen. “Lee Adama,” he answered, his fingers tapping lightly on the steering wheel.

“Lee? It’s Kara.” He knew her voice before she said her name and his heart began to pound.

He faltered, mouth open, his brain almost too stunned to speak. “Why are you calling me? Did something happen to my father?”

Death. The only frakking reason Kara Thrace would ever call him.

“No. It’s Saul.” Her voice was smooth and calm and it made his heart beat like rusty machinery, struggling to function under an onslaught of emotions.

“What about Saul?” He managed to sound calmer than he felt. He stretched his fingers out, spreading them wide to ease the tension.

“He’s in lockup in Delos. A DUI. And he needs your help. The Old Man is retiring in two weeks, Lee. If Saul screws it up for him…” her tone implied some threat that he couldn’t get himself to care much about.

“So, no one’s dead. Well, that’s a relief.” Sarcasm dripped from his tone.

“Lee. C’mon. Saul’s like a second dad to you.” He could hear her impatience right under the surface.

“What do you know? Frak.” He held the receiver away from his ear, memories, so carefully locked away, springing forth like a dam bursting its walls.

“Lee?” He could hear her on the line, her voice tinny as he stared at the phone’s bright display.

“Get someone else, Kara. I can’t.” He stabbed the END button and tossed it onto the passenger seat like he'd been bitten. With a loud rush of air, he slumped back in his seat and raked his fingers through his hair. The old ache, the one he pretended wasn’t there had begun to wrap around his heart once more.

***

Caprica City: Seven Years Earlier

Lee arrived early at one of Caprica's finest restaurants, The Telesto, his eyes scanning the room for his father before asking the hostess for his table. As he followed the young woman, he glanced at the tables around him, their centerpieces crafted with array of dried flowers with rich russet and ivory petals arranged in a nest of dark green foliage sitting atop wide gold vases. Candles and glasses were arranged precisely around their table as Lee sat to wait for the other guests for unexpected Autumnal Equinox celebration.

“Lee,” his father’s voice sounded from behind him a few moments later. He stood sharply, nearly toppling a water glass as he did.

“Sirs,” Lee said, saluting his father and the gruff and irritating Major Saul Tigh. Friends for years, the two men had started a relationship when Lee was just a teenager. It was because of Saul that his parents’ marriage has fizzled. Just the man him brought back a rush of memories that Lee did his best to stifle. He would be civil tonight.

“At ease, Lee. It’s a family dinner, not an inspection,” Bill said and Lee chafed. Any other time, his father would have insisted on the salute. They were in uniform, after all.

Lee gave an awkward smile and watched warily as Saul followed his father to the other side of the round table, his hand grazing his father's back and pulled out two chairs.

When they were all seated, Bill turned his gaze upon Lee. “How are you son?” Bill asked, his eyes smiling.

Lee smoothed his napkin over his lap. “Fine, sir. Transferring to the Atlantia to serve under Commander Glaiser.” Lee’s fingers found his water glass and he raised it to his lips.

“That's a good assignment, Lee. Congratulations on getting completing War College. Sorry I wasn't able to see you last time I was here.”

“It’s fine, dad. It was fine. Mom came.” Lee dropped the glass clumsily onto the table, spilling a little water onto the white tablecloth. He avoided Saul’s gaze, which he felt boring into him.

“Dad!” Lee heard behind him and smiled as he rose and turned to see Zak coming through the door, a wide grin on his face as he approached the table.

“Zak,” Lee said and met his brother for an embrace. Lee felt his anxiety drop tenfold. “So glad you’re here,” Lee said, his voice pitched for Zak’s ears alone.

“I got it, bro,” Zak said and rounded the table to give both his father and Saul a hug. Lee watched in amazement as the three of them grinned at each other. He’d never understand how Zak could just ease into it all. He didn’t think he would ever be able to do the same.

“Have a seat, Zak,” Bill said, motioning his youngest son into the chair between him and Lee.

“Great,” Zak said, as he slid into his chair. “Man, I’m so beat. Flight school is a real bitch.” Zak winked at Lee and took a gulp of water from his glass. “I’ve only got about an hour before I’ve got to head back. They’re real jerks about going off campus.”

Bill smiled affectionately at Zak, and Lee realized yet again, that his father was never quite so bothered by Zak’s harsh criticism of the military as he was with Lee. If Lee had said something like that, his father would have had sharp words for him.

“When do you leave for the Atlantia?” Zak asked Lee a moment later.

“She’s scheduled to be back in port in a week. I’m doing some last-minute things at Caprica Base and then I’ll head out for a few-months tour. I think she’s staying in system, so I might be coming back to Caprica pretty often.”

“That would be great. You can by me a beer when I break your old sim records.” Zak tossed him an easy smile and the tightness in Lee’s chest unraveled. Zak was turning into his own man and Lee’s need to watch out for him was beginning to fade. He could take care of himself now.

A moment later, Saul’s head popped up from the menu he’d been reading. “Here she is,” he announced and stood. Bill stood a second later and Lee twisted around to see a young blond woman approaching, her hair shortly cut enhancing high cheekbones and a wide-set eyes. She wore cadet pips and an easy grin.

“Sirs,” Kara said, pausing to salute before approaching.

“At ease, Kara,” Bill said with a welcoming smile. “It’s good to see you. Happy Equinox. You haven’t met my sons.” Bill motioned to Lee and Zak who stood to greet her. Saul had rounded the table and was approaching Kara from the left.

A second later, Saul had pulled Kara into a quick embrace. “How are you, Thrace?” The gruff older man said and Lee felt his eyes widen.

“Couldn’t be better, Tigh,” Kara said with a grin and stepped back from the hug, her hand still holding onto Tigh’s sleeve.

Kara Thrace…Kara Thrace…he knew that name from somewhere.

Saul spoke to Lee. “I’ve mentioned Kara to you before. I served with her mother in the first war. We’ve known each other for years. She’s a second year at the Academy.” Saul’s face nearly burst with pride and Lee’s brow wrinkled as he stepped forward to shake her hand.

“Hi, Lieutenant Adama. I’m Kara,” she said. Kara's fingers were warm in his palm, and their eyes met, a soft green-gold, tinged with amusement and a bit of appraisal as she shook firmly and released. Their gaze lingered for a moment, a charge of something between them and then she stepped back and turned towards Zak who was smiling unabashedly.

“Cadet Thrace,” he said, saluting Kara and attempting and failing to keep his mouth into a firm line.

“Cadet Adama. Nice to see you out of trouble,” Kara smirked and Lee watched as Zak blushed a bright red and glanced towards their father.

“She’s joking, dad. I don’t get into trouble.” Lee saw a momentary glimpse of uncertainty in Zak’s eyes.

“Just kidding, nugget. Keep up the good work,” Kara said and stepped past Zak to greet Bill, who also pulled her into a quick embrace. Lee was befuddled at his father’s comfort with this strange and beautiful young woman whom he couldn’t take his eyes off.

“Kara, have a seat. We’ve all just arrived.” The waiter approached and took their drink orders as they all settled back into their seats.

Over the top of his menu, Lee glanced at Kara, eyes taking in her wide, almost elfin face and full lips. She stared hard at the menu and until Saul leaned towards her to whisper something in her ear. When her eyes darted to Lee’s, he looked away, feeling uncomfortable as he imagined the whispers were about him.

Lee stayed quiet as Zak and Kara talked about the Academy and answered Bill’s questions. He watched as Zak nervously picked at his silverware and napkin, blushing under Kara’s gentle teasing. It was clear that his brother had a huge crush on this second-year and he could see exactly why. She was magnificent.

“So, Lee. What about you? Where are you stationed?” Lee swallowed his bite of chicken and spoke, managing to sound half-intelligent under her gaze.

“I’ve just finished War College and I'll be shipping off to the Atlantia in a week or so.” Lee held her eyes and then looked away, unable to think of anything else to say.

“War college? Impressive! I’ll be happy to make it out of my second year without Major Henderson taking my wings. That woman does not like me,” Kara shook her head.

“She’s supposed to be tough, Thrace,” Saul interjected. “And don’t even think you’re not graduating right on time. You’re the best pilot that place has ever seen. She doesn’t graduate you and I’ll come down there personally.”

“Hold on there, tiger,” Kara said, giving Saul a warning expression and laying her hand on his sleeve. “No need for heroics, but you know me, can’t keep my trap shut. Almost got a disciplinary report three weeks ago because I questioned her tactical strategy. Not my fault if she was dead wrong.” Lee watched as Kara shrugged it all off.

Saul glowered beside her. “You’d better watch your ass, Kara,” he warned.

“It’s not a big deal. I’ll graduate.” Kara’s tone was testy and Saul reached for his drink, his face irritated.

“Saul here thinks he’s my old man.” Her amused tone sparked back to life as she pointed her thumb at Tigh, speaking conspiratorially at Lee and Zak. “Since the day I agreed to join the military, you’d think he was a mother hen.” She laughed and leaned into Saul’s shoulder. “I’d never hear the end of it if I actually got into real trouble.”

Saul grumbled and his father laughed. “Saul wants what’s best for you, Kara.”

“Yeah, yeah, I know.” She winked at Lee and he gave her an awkward smile, taking in the whole scene with a bit of dumbfounded amusement. He’d never seen Saul Tigh be so kind.

“How’s your mother, Lee?” Bill asked unexpectedly and Lee glanced up, eyes surprised.

“Uh, fine, sir.” He glance at Zak, who avoided his eyes.

“We spoke not too long ago, she and I. I heard she’s getting re-married.”

Lee’s jaw clenched and he dropped his fork to the table to raise his napkin to wipe his mouth.

“We had a good conversation. She sounded happy.” His father’s tone was wistful and Lee wanted to dive across the table and punch him. He hadn’t felt this rush of anger in a long time. Since, well, his father had seen him last.

His voice sounded sharp and bitter as he answered, the words tumbling out of his mouth before he could stop them, “No thanks to you, sir.”

At Bill’s surprised expression, Lee abruptly he pushed his chair back and stood. “If you’ll excuse me.” He turned away, blood rushing into his face as he fought for control of his emotions. Behind him he heard the scuffle of chairs and his father calling him back to the table.

Thirty seconds later, he was in the lobby, hard shoes tapping on the marble floor of the hotel that housed the restaurant where his family still sat. He breathed and tried to calm himself down, but the images of his mother, drunk time and time again spiraled through his brain. The endless problems and tears that Lee had had to clean up – all so his father could have his career and his new lover. Godsdamnit, he should have never come.

“Lieutenant Adama?” Kara Thrace startled him with her sudden presence and he glanced over his shoulder.

“Yeah?” He unclenched his fists and pulled his face into a calm façade before he turned completely in her direction.

Kara gave him a tenuous smile. “We’re ordering dessert – you want anything?” He knew that wasn’t the reason she followed.

“No. I’m going to go.” He stepped back.

“Hey, listen. Saul told me about some of the stuff that went down after he and your dad got together. He probably shouldn’t have, but we’re pretty close.”

He wanted to be angry but there was something about her expression that drew him in, pulling him unawares a step closer. He spoke without really meaning to. “It’s hard, you know. My mom…she fell apart when he left.” He raked a hand over his short bristles of hair.

“My mom was no prize, so I get it. My dad left, too, but I had Saul to help me out when shit got too rough. He’s a good man and your dad seems happy.”

Lee struggled to argue with her, but the words tasted immature and nasty in his mouth so he swallowed them down. “I guess.”

“Your mom’s better now, right?” Kara crossed her arms over her chest and stared at him.

He stared back, feeling himself getting lost in her wide eyes. “I guess. She found someone else. They seem good, but…” his voice trailed off.

“Yeah. I know. I used to have a fantasy that my dad would come back and my mom would stop being a rotten bitch, but that didn’t happen.” She shrugged. “Doesn’t help to stay stuck in the past. Can’t do anything about it.”

Lee snorted bitterly. “I usually don’t and then a family dinner happens.” He rolled his eyes at himself and finally broke into a genuine smile.

Kara smiled back and linked her arm through his. “Let’s go have dessert. I saw a triple chocolate cake on the menu. I know you can’t resist that.”

Lee let her lead him back into the restaurant. Cake was not the only thing he couldn’t resist.


***

Delos Police Station

Saul Tigh stood in the small cell, relieving himself, listening to the clanking of doors as another prisoner was led out of a nearby cell and through the doors at the end of a long hallway. He breathed a heavy sigh.

Frak.

He zipped his pants and sat on the small bunk, staring at the bars in front of him. It had been years since he’d found himself locked up after a night of drinking. Worse, he could barely remember what had even happened. Rubbing a hand over his face, he felt stubble under his palms. He should have never listened to them. They didn’t know what Ellen was like, how she frakked with his head in the worst ways.

Frak.

The double doors swung wide again and Saul lifted his head out of his hands, eyes widening in surprise as Lee Adama walked towards him wearing a sports jacket and jeans. Saul blinked hard against the image of the man he hadn’t seen in nearly seven years. He looked almost the same, older, maybe a few pounds heavier, but still wearing that same judgmental smirk of his.

“Great. Lee frakking Adama.” The shock hadn’t prevented him from still disliking Bill’s son. Their long history of conflict was well-known.

Lee’s brow hardened and his mouth screwed up into a disgusted moue. “Saul frakking Tigh. Locked up again. Just like old times, no?”

Saul grimaced at the harsh words, remembering clearly the days when he hadn’t been able to put down the bottle and had found himself on the wrong side of a disciplinary panel. Bill had stood by him that time, nearly giving away his commission to call in favors from the higher ups. And here he was again.

“Go back where you came from. I’d rather sit and rot,” Saul barked, turning away as anger and shame twisted together in his gut. The ceiling above him was stained brown as laid back on the cot to stare up at it.

“Have it your way, Saul. You want to screw up my father’s retirement, your choice.” Saul could feel his eyes burning a hole into his skin.

“Like you frakking care…” Saul shot back, expecting Lee to walk out like he always did. He was surprised when the man simply stood in place.

“What I care about is my business. You’ll see the magistrate in about an hour. Get yourself cleaned up.” Lee tossed him a clean white t-shirt and gray hoodie. “That’s the best I could do on short notice.”

Saul saw the clothing hit the wall next to him and fall soundlessly onto his leg. He swallowed, unable to refuse, but unable to make a sound or rise from the bed. He simply stared at the edges of the rectangular ceiling tiles, mind willing Lee to leave.

“See you in an hour.” Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the motion of Lee leaving. He didn’t breathe again until the door at the end of the hall slammed closed.

***

Lee emerged from lockup breathing fire.

“Hey, Lee. You okay, man?” Suddenly his friend Kyle was there, his hand touching Lee’s shoulder and rousing him from his anger.

“Oh, Kyle. Yeah. I’m okay.” Lee let out a shaky laugh, gathering himself as he paused to talk to his friend.

“You were seeing Saul Tigh? That the same Saul that you told me about a couple months ago?” Kyle flipped through a stack of reports as Lee stood near his desk.

“Yep, the very same.” Lee grimaced. “The man’s almost sixty, you’d think he’d have his act together.” Lee still felt the old anger, how he’d had to pick up the pieces at home after his father left for yet another assignment, knowing all the while that he was gone and wouldn't come back.

Kyle continued to talk. “He’s a drinker, right? Once that gets hold, can’t shake it sometimes.” He felt the man’s eyes on him and struggled to make sense of it.

“I don’t know.” Lee said weakly and took a breath to clear his head. “You have the arrest report?”

Kyle nodded and bent over his desk to handed Lee a thin file. “I’ll take him over to the courthouse in about forty minutes. Have to finish up some other thing first.”

“Okay,” Lee said, his mind already focused on the details of the case, his troubled emotions easing away under a well-practiced tight control. “Thanks.”

He lifted his eyes momentarily from the report as Kyle walked away, heading towards a couple who’d just walked in the door. His gaze trailed his friend and he froze, his entire body locking in shock as he realized who was standing not more than twenty feet away from him.

Kara.

***

Kara gave the blond officer a tight smile. “We’re here to see Saul Tigh. I’m a fellow officer and I brought an attorney. Where is he?”

The man raised his eyebrows and glanced over his shoulder. “Mr. Tigh already has representation. That’s his lawyer over there.” Kyle thumbed behind him and Kara followed the direction of his gesture. She blinked, her body stilling around a suddenly racing heart. Frakking hell. What was he doing here?

A small trembling began in her hands as she tried to breathe. An instant later, his eyes locked onto hers, the same intense blue, widening and then narrowing along with his mouth, which hardened into a flat line. She looked back at the police officer, her mind a blur.

“Uh. Okay. Thanks.” Kara blinked and turned away, pulling Mr. Lampkin along with her. “C’mon.”

“What’s this all about Captain? You dragged me out of bed early this morning on an urgent case and the Colonel already has representation?”

“I didn’t know. He said ‘no’ on the phone last night. I didn’t know he’d be here. Frak.” Kara put a row of desks between them as she lingered by the door. Lee, now out of view, might as well been standing right next to her. Her heart skittered painfully in her chest.

“What do you want me to do?” Romo tapped his fingers impatiently against his briefcase.

Kara’s mind was working fast, sorting the pieces of a puzzle with jagged and sharp edges. “Shit. That’s Lee, the Commander’s son. I had… I didn’t think he’d be here.” Kara could barely breathe and her eyes darted toward where she’d last seen Lee. This wasn’t happening.

“Well go and talk to him. Figure it out.” Romo glanced at his watch. Kara shot him a look filled with irritation. Frak.

She took two steps backward and pulled her uniform jacket down sharply.

***

Endless minutes later, Lee's legs were still frozen in place, his fingers flipping through the pages of a report he couldn’t see anymore. What the frak was she doing here? Why?

At movement to his side, he glanced up and saw her approaching, the dark blue of her uniform fitting snugly against her body, blond hair pulled back into a pony tail. His eyes then found her face, same wide green-gold eyes, high cheekbones and full mouth that made him blink with sudden memories of the two of them together. His stomach flipped, doing the same nervous dance it had done years before. He crushed the feeling like bug under his boot.

No.

“What are you doing here?” he bit out sharply. He needed her to leave. He couldn’t do this. Frak.

Kara blinked, surprised at his tone, and he saw her face harden. The anger was welcome. He knew this dance.

“I brought another lawyer. Saul doesn’t need you.” Kara’s whole body cocked in defiance.

“Fine. Great. Have fun.” His tone was bile and dismissal. He tossed the report onto Kyle’s desk, turned on his heel and strode out the door.

He shoved the door open, slamming it against the brick wall and then hearing it crash closed behind him. Rushing towards the car, the wind whipped his jacket and hair, a light spattering of rain had begun to fall. He held it together long enough to hear the car alarm chirp and then he slid into the silent privacy of his car’s interior. With his head on the steering wheel, Lee took long gulping breaths, trying to still the painful pounding of his heart. With an onslaught of emotions, his body shook, blindsided by her presence.

With fumbling fingers, he started the car and rubbed hard at his stinging eyes. No! he shouted inside his head. Not again. Lee backed out of the space and drove too fast out of town.

***

“Colonel?” Kara said, glancing into the cell where Saul Tigh lay on a cot. Her voice sounded weird as she fought against her still trembling insides. He was here!

“Kara. What’s going on?” Saul sat up to stare at her wide-eyed. “Lee was here...”

Kara just stared at the Colonel and then dropped her gaze. Saul knew too frakking much about her history with Lee. Things she never wanted anyone else to know.

Saul stood and approached her, standing close. She took a sharp breath and looked up, shaking her head and blinking back sudden moisture in her eyes. Warding of more questions, she gestured to her right.

“This is Romo Lampkin, your new attorney. Lee’s gone.” She hated the tremulous quality in her voice.

“Colonel Tigh.” Romo pushed his hand through the bar and Saul shook it while staring once again at Kara.

Kara avoided his gaze. “I’ll leave the two of you to talk.” She turned and walked away.

“Captain.” Saul barked from behind her and she froze in place for a long second. She couldn’t do this. Kara took another step, grabbed the handle of the door and left.

***

Caprica City: Six Years Earlier

Kara’s body writhed under Lee’s fingers, her hips arching up to meet his touch as he skimmed a palm over her breast and down the flat plane of her stomach. His touch had lit her on fire and she couldn’t stop wanting him. The muscles of his shoulders flexed as she pulled his mouth down for another kiss, tasting the sweetness of the ambrosia they’d barely even touched before their hands were all over each other.

“Just one more time,” she breathed into his mouth. “I missed you so much.” Her fingers slid under his waistband to find him hard and silky smooth as she folded her hand around him. His groan shot through her insides, making her tremble with need.

“Gods, Kara. I can’t stop myself. We can’t…” His words were muffled against her skin, a weak refrain that she’d heard before, a useless set of words spoken every time they let themselves be together.

Lee was like an addiction that she couldn’t control, taunting her with his body and words and no matter how hard she tried to resist, she couldn’t. She’d promised herself she wouldn’t do it again, that she’d avoid him, hit him, shove him away so hard that he’d disappear forever, that they could somehow just go back to being friends. The three of them. She’d even promised Zak, silently, wordlessly, because she couldn’t confess, couldn’t stop Zak’s mouth from bringing her to an orgasm that his brother owned. She couldn’t pretend that she didn’t love Lee more.

The ache in her heart disappeared only when they were together, Lee’s arms wrapped around her, sharing this hidden and awful thing they were doing. She knew she was his drug, too, that their connection was more than either could resist, pulling lies out of their mouths time and time again while Zak loved them both. She’d be fooling herself if she didn’t admit that the shame drove her harder, and that she punished herself by trying to love Zak more, to make up for what she had done, failing every time Lee found her or she found him or they came together in the same hotel when he came to Caprica.

It was their place, with its dingy wallpaper and old sheets, grim and cheap and stark, transforming into paradise when he was inside her, driving her insane with his body and his words until they came, hot and sweating, clinging together and trying to say goodbye.

‘Never again,’ they’d say when their passion had cooled and the guilt set in. They’d agree, shaking on it, promising solemnly as they declared their love for Zak, nearly begging themselves to stay away from each other for good this time. They meant it and for weeks between visits, she thought it might stick until the ache of missing him made her irritable and snappish and she’d she weaken to check the flight schedules online. Her eyes would find the Atlantia, drawn to the date when he would come planetside once more. And then she would search him out again, finding him sitting on the pale green coverlet in their motel room, eyes downcast and guilty until she touched him, cradling his head against her stomach. And the cycle would begin again.


***

Delos

Ninety minutes later, Saul stood with his new attorney on the steps of the courthouse after a brief appearance in front of the magistrate. His shirt and jacket, stinking of old booze and sweat, were rolled under his arm. Squinting in the bright sun, Saul glanced around the small coastal town, taking in the tree-lined streets and the happy vacationing families strolling along the wide sidewalks.

Lampkin continued to speak as Saul half-listened; he knew the drill well enough. “We have another appearance in a few days. In the meantime, take it easy on the booze and stay out of trouble. If we’re lucky, the Fleet will overlook this and you can retire like you planned. I’m returning the car you rented, so you’re on foot. Captain Thrace can drive you anywhere you need to go. I’m sure she’s around here somewhere.” Lampkin glanced with disdain around them. “I’ve got to get back to Caprica.”

With a handshake, the lawyer left and Saul breathed a sigh of relief. Where in the frak had Kara found this bozo? He’d almost rather have had Lee.

With a sour expression, he scanned the storefronts, eyes finding his target, and headed towards Joe’s Bar.

Pulling open the door, the familiar scent of wood polish and beer filled his nostrils as he looked around. At the end of a long bar she sat, head down and staring into a shot glass.

“Thought I’d find you here,” Saul said, sliding onto a stool next to her.

Kara lifted her head and tossed back the shot. “Yeah. What of it?”

Saul was unruffled and his eyes found the bartender. “Give me a whiskey, neat.” The man nodded and Saul glanced at his reflection in the bottle-lined mirror behind the bar. He looked like hell.

“That lawyer of yours took the rental back to Caprica. I’m probably gonna be here another week. How much leave you got?”

Kara ignored him as she sipped her drink and the bartender slid the drink across the table. “Two cubits.”

Saul took a sip and shuddered. “Put it on her tab.” Saul tilted his head in Kara’s direction and the bartender glanced her way. She gave the barest of nods and the man headed back to the other end of the bar.

“What’re you gonna do now?” Saul asked a few minutes later.

“What are you talking about?” He knew she was exactly aware of what he meant.

“This is your chance. Don’t tell me you’re gonna chicken out now.” For years Kara had wanted to see Lee, to explain and find some peace. Every time she’d decided against it. Now, it seemed, maybe fate was going to force her hand.

“Frak you. It’s none of your business.” She tapped her knuckles on the bar and watched as the bartender filled her glass again.

“It is my business. Been my business for the last twelve years,” he grated, sipping his whiskey slowly. It burned a sweet path down his throat and he felt his body relax.

“Well not this time.”

Saul glanced at her face and let it drop.

“And you’re one to talk,” she quipped, talking half the shot into her mouth. “What the frak, Saul? What are you going to tell the old man?”

“I don’t frakking know.” He threw back the rest of his shot.

“What happened anyway?” Kara turned her gaze on him, accusations flying.

He just growled at her. They’d been playing this dance since she was a teenager. She’d holler at him and he’d holler at her and in the end, they’d shared more secrets than he’d ever have suspected.

They sat for a long time, eyes focused on the silent pyramid game on the television behind the bar. The subtitles rolled by as they drank, passing time and settling into their own heads.

“He doesn’t want to see me,” Kara finally said, dropping her gaze to stare at the glass she twirled in her fingers.

“Maybe.” He really had no frakking idea what Lee Adama might want. Never understood the boy.

“I can’t take it back, you know.” Her voice was sad and small, reminding him so much of the times she’d come to him after a blowout with her mother, all anger and guilt in that tough exterior.

Her mother, Socrata Thrace had been a hard woman, but a hell of a soldier and he had been proud to serve with her in the first cylon war. They’d both ended up stationed on Picon years after the cylons ran, but Socrata’s life and his had gone in different directions. By the time Saul got to know her again, she’d had a failed marriage and was a single parent to a bright but rebellious pre-teen. It hadn’t taken long for Saul to see the pattern of abuse and he’d gone to his CO to help the girl. Shortly after, things got better.

Within that year, though, Saul had been shipped off to the Valkyrie where he met Bill. He’d never forgotten Kara and they’d stayed in touch, seeing her on leave when he could. That girl had made an impression on him and he made sure she didn’t get lost in the system. The fact that she was a naturally gifted pilot just made it easier.

“That was a long time ago, Kara. People change.” Even as the words left his mouth, he knew that Lee, in his stubborn refusal to ever forgive his father, likely hadn’t actually changed at all.

***

A few hours after he left the precinct, Lee found himself back at his office, sitting behind his old wooden desk and trying to focus on the case he was reading. His eyes skimmed the letters but none of the content reached his brain. He’d been shaken by Kara’s sudden appearance at the precinct. She’d looked just the same, as beautiful as he remembered, but more refined, maybe even softer. Gone was that scruffy, angry nugget he’d known when she was in flight school – when they'd shared a bed. Lee grimaced at the thought, at the arousing images of her moving against him, their bodies wrapped around each other in passion… With force, Lee slammed the heavy law book closed. Stop!

It had taken years for Lee to get over what had happened between him and Kara and Zak, and he never expected that just seeing her would bring it all flooding back. He’d frakking loved her. With a sharp clenching of his jaw, he fought to keep his thoughts under control and pulled more files out of a cabinet to his left and stacking them haphazardly on his desk.

A loud rapping at the office’s outer door startled him and he rose, trepidation filling him. No one ever came to this office on the weekends. He silently begged for it not to be her. He approached slowly as the pounding continued. Through the door he could hear cursing and a gravelly voice.

With relief, he yanked the door open to see Saul Tigh, his face slack with alcohol.

“Lee Adama. I need to talk to you.” Saul’s words were slurred and Lee let the man stumble past as he closed the door.

Lee’s face twisted in disgust. “You haven’t even been out of jail for a day and you’re drunk already. What do you want, Colonel?”

Saul spun around and faced him. “Kara. You two need to talk.”

Lee snorted and shook his head. “You don’t know anything. Stay out of it.” Lee brushed past him and walked back to his office.

Saul followed. “I know more than you think and that girl needs you to forgive her for what she did.”

Lee felt a hot rush of anger rising into his face and he spun on Saul. “Stay out of it!” He bit out every word, his jaw clenching. There was no way Kara would ever apologize. He’d left that hope at Zak’s funeral. It had been over for nearly six years and he didn’t want to see her again.

Swaying slightly, Saul gripped the edge of the chair in front of Lee’s desk and slumped into it. “I know what it’s like to frak up. It doesn’t get better, Lee. It gets worse until you drown in your own misery.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Lee’s tone was controlled, eyes boring holes into Saul Tigh’s bald head. There’s no way Kara told him about their affair.

“I know you were with her when she was with Zak. You frakked your brother’s girlfriend for three months and then he died. Now don’t tell me that doesn’t sit in your craw every frakking day.” His voice slurred more heavily and his eyes became hard chips of brown ice.

Lee felt his chest caving in, every molecule of strength draining out of him. “Why did she tell you that?” His mind was whirling with the implications as he stared at Saul with wide eyes.

When Saul didn’t answer, he looked down at the knuckles on his hand, and asked softly, “Does my father know?” It was the one thing he couldn’t bear, his own shame grounding him down in front of his father once more.

“Bill doesn’t know. But he should. Your silent treatment has been going on long enough. He lost two sons the day of that funeral and that’s not frakking fair. He still doesn’t understand it. You need to man up, Lee. Get your head out of your ass and make this right with him. He’s retiring in two weeks. Be there.”

He watched as Saul stood and turned towards the door, pausing with his hand on the chair for support as he regained his balance. One last time, Saul looked over his shoulder, his mouth twisting into a deep frown.

“And talk to Kara. Zak died a long time ago, Lee, and wallowing in guilt and anger about it isn’t going to do a godsdamned thing.”

Lee didn’t answer, could barely look the man in the eye. When the door finally slammed behind him, Lee crossed his arms on the desk and dropped his head onto them.

He felt sick and had no idea what to do.

***

Caprica City

Kara twisted the sheet of paper into her palm, digging into it with sharp fingernails. ‘Meet me at the Horizon Lounge,’ the paper read and Kara swallowed. It wasn’t their usual place and dread filled her. Lee was ending it. Just the thought of it was enough to make her stop moving, inhaling breaths as she imagined his face, so determined, saying words that finally sounded like an ending. He had to be the one. She couldn’t do it. She needed him too much.

With her heart in her throat, she entered the nearly empty bar and found the stiff shoulders of his uniform at a small table in the back of the darkened interior. Shoving the note into her pocket, she forced her chin up. She wouldn’t frakking beg.

“Lee,” she said and he turned around, smiling at her, his face looking calmer than she’d seen it for weeks.

“Hey,” he extended his hand and pulled her into the seat next to him, giving her deep kiss. “I missed you,” he said against her skin as he slid an arm around her shoulders.

“What are you doing?” she asked, startled and pulling away to stare at him. “We’re in public.” She glanced around, ducking her head but finding no one except the bartender reading a book behind the bar.

“I don’t want to cheat any more, Kara. I can’t do it.” His face looked deceptively calm and she frowned, pulling a lip into her mouth.

“I – okay.” She spun in her seat and took a long drink of the ambrosia he had waiting for her. “I knew this was coming.” Her voice sounded tremulous and she swallowed, calming herself as best she could. It had to end. It would be better.

“No, that’s not what I mean. Look at me.”

She turned her head, just catching his eyes but not quite facing him.

“I love you, Kara. I love you so much and I can’t do this to myself anymore. I can’t pretend this is going to go on forever.” He took a deep breath. Here it comes, she thought and her heart wanted to stop beating. “I put in for a transfer back to Caprica. I want us to be together. You leave Zak, be with me.”

She stared wide-eyed for a long moment and then looked down at his fingers, white-knuckled as they gripped her hand.

“I don’t know.” She shook her head. In all their time together, he’d never pressured her, and she’d never offered. He lived elsewhere and soon so would she. It would never work. “I’m getting stationed on the Excelsior in two weeks. We won’t even see each other.”

Lee leaned into her, touching her face with his fingertips. “Transfer. Say no. Do something. Or frak, I’ll come with you. I can’t be without you. I can’t sleep or eat. All I think about is you. Please Kara. I’ll do anything.” His voice took on a desperate edge that she’d never heard before, the raw need of it triggering something deep and frightening inside her.

“What about Zak?” She met his eyes finally, seeing so much of what she wanted reflected back at her. She loved him desperately, had nearly sold her soul to be with him under Zak’s nose. A chance to be free of the guilt made her almost giddy.

“It sucks, Kara, but it’s done. We can’t change it. I never wanted to hurt him.” Lee faltered for a moment, letting go of her hand to rake his finger through his hair. “He’s never going to forgive me.”

Kara watched him, wanting to save him from anything that would cause him pain. “I won’t tell him why. I’ll just do it. Tell him we can’t be together because I’m transferring to the Excelsior. Come with me. Change your transfer. Then we can be together. He’ll never know what happened all these months.” She felt like scum even saying the words aloud, but she was down to surviving now. She had to save herself, save Lee, somehow make this frakked up situation work.

Suddenly, the real possibility of them being together filled her eyes with tears. Gods, she loved Zak, really cared about his happiness, but for months she’d been living a lie. She needed it to end and she needed to be with Lee.

Hours later, they were together in their small motel room, their night punctuated by passion and pain and the excitement of new possibilities. Near midnight, just before she stepped back out into the night to return to Zak, she dug into her shirt and pulled at the chain around her neck to find the clasp and break the circle.

She pulled off one of her tags and handed it to Lee who gripped it tightly in his palm.

“Until we’re together again. I love you.”


Continued...

Date: 2012-03-03 08:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] koolaidmom11.livejournal.com
Wow!! This is so angsty...and so AWESOME!!!!!!

Date: 2012-03-04 05:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kag523.livejournal.com
CAN'T. STOP. TO. COMMENT.

AIEEEEEEEEeeeee!!!!!

Image (http://s931.photobucket.com/albums/ad159/kag523/evenmoregifs/?action=view&current=203-yes.gif)

Date: 2012-03-06 07:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] requialexa.livejournal.com
This whole universe you've created is so entirely plausible and perhaps better than the real thing! I don't want this to end! Love Saul asKara's old man, and both boys officially meeting her on the same occasion. Can hardly stop to comment!

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