[identity profile] scifishipper.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] pilots_presents
Title: Requiem
Author: [livejournal.com profile] kag523
Characters/Pairings: Lee/Kara/Sam
Word Count: ~10,000 words
Rating: NC-17 for sexuality, canon-consistent character death, violence and mature themes.
Summary: After Kara’s death in the maelstrom, Lee finds Sam to be an unexpected ally in grief...
Spoilers: From Maelstrom through The Ties that Bind.
Author’s Notes: The chapter headings are taken from the poem “Your Love Should Never Be Offered” by Hafez. The prompt for this fic was “Lee and Sam bonding over experiences with Kara.”

Part 1: The Light of Being

: : : : : : : : : :

I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in the darkness,
the astonishing light of your own being...

: : : : : : : : : :

Sam is standing on Galactica’s hangar deck when Kara flies into the storm. They are piping the chatter of the pilots through the intercom system and he’s listening with half an ear to his wife’s voice as he carries boxes from the raptor one by one. Without warning, the room erupts into organized chaos. It’s that fact that warns him, the way that the Chief is suddenly roaring directions to anyone who’ll listen, but that individual others are staring upward, unmoving. Waiting.

‘Kara’s going to crash, ” his mind announces.

Anders takes two steps over to the side, putting himself next to the speaker, her voice (and then Lee’s) almost too clear.

“Starbuck, Apollo,” Lee announces, “Lost you on DRADIS. I say again, I’ve lost you...” There’s a short pause, and Sam’s forced to listen to Lee breathing hard. (Has a moment to wonder if this is what he sounds like when her). But his next words drive this from his mind. “I’ll try to fix on you... Kara!”

The tone is sharp and worried, and Anders winces hearing it. This is the first time Lee has used her name rather than her callsign, and the sound of it is a knife to his gut.

“Lee... I’m not afraid anymore,” she answers.

Kara’s voice is calm and steady, unnaturally so, and Sam’s eyes widen in response. This isn’t the voice of the woman he knows... the person for whom anger is a virtue. “She was dealing with a lot, Sam. She told me that I was different from other kids... that I needed to be a warrior like her. Taught me that fear gets you killed. And anger keeps you alive...” This isn’t the woman he’s hearing now, her words soft and faded. He hasn’t seen this side of Kara in months. Not since before the cylons came back and she disappeared into the cylon compound with Leoben at her side.

“Say again...?” Apollo says anxiously.

“I’m not afraid anymore...”

Anders swallows with a dry mouth, realization dawning like a chill of frost over his skin.

“All right, Kara, listen to me. Forget the damned toaster,” Lee growls. “Climb now or you’re dead. Gods-damnit, Kara, pull up now! We can still pull out of this! We haven’t gone past the point of no return. Pull UP!”

Sam’s hand reach out, his fingers pressing up against the speaker. He needs to be out there, to protect her, but he’s trapped here carrying boxes instead. One of the knuckledraggers runs past, an extinguisher in hand. The Chief is over at the side, bellowing at anyone who’ll listen. Orange-jumpsuited men and women are clearing the bay of birds, readying, it appears for a crash landing.

Somehow, Anders already knows they’re too late.

“Gods-damnit, where are you?” Lee yells. “Visual! Visual! Okay, Kara, I’m coming to get you.”

“Lee... I’ll see you on the other side.”

Sam’s legs go weak at her words. Standing in the hangar deck, everything seems to shift into slow motion. He closes his eyes, breathing hard, his attention tunnelling down to the voice of his wife and rival.

“Please...” Sam begs.

“Kara,” Lee shouts, fear sharpening his words. “Please, listen to me! Come back.”

It’s the panic is Lee’s voice that leaves Anders’s fighting vertigo. Because he knows then, without question, that he believes Kara’s really in trouble... That if Lee is scared, then the chances she’s coming back are low. Suddenly another argument is back in his mind. His insistence that Kara choose between them. And her inability to do it.

“Do you love him?” Sam had asked her.


“Lee, Kara... do you love Lee?”

“Gods, Sam!”
she’d answered. “Maybe...? I don’t know.”

“Then you’ve got to go to him...”

Sam knows, without a doubt, that Kara loves Lee Adama. Knows too, her incredible capacity for self-loathing and guilt. He winces, hearing the voices from the comm, an idea suddenly springing to life in his chest. Tendrils of hope rising from his last-minute terror.

“Tell her what she wants, Lee...” Sam hisses, willing, impossibly for Apollo to hear him. “Tell her what she wants to hear!”

“Just let me go,” she whimpers.

“Say it,” Anders shouts, voice tight with pain. Around him, people turn to stare, but he doesn’t care. “Tell Kara you love her.”

Sam loves his wife. Always has. But he has known for months that she loves Lee too.

“Gods-damnit, Kara! You come back! Come BACK!” Lee roars.

Sam stumbles and goes down hard, legs buzzing with the impact. The blood is rushing in his ears, like water overhead. He feels like he’s falling into the storm with her. Going down in her arms. Kara’s voice wraps around him, leaving him flashing to a hundred moments together. Pulling her onto the bed on Caprica... Standing by the river by the settlement... Laying in the tent in the rain... Carrying her out of the cylon compound, Leoben dead on the floor... Watching her and Lee torn and bloodied, clinging to one another in the ring...

“It’s okay,” she whispers to Lee (and to Sam too). “Just let me go... they’re waiting for me.”

There’s a sudden screech of static and the second comm goes dead. All Sam can hear now is the sound of Lee’s screaming.

: : : : : : : : : :

Lee stumbles out over the edge of the viper, nausea rising in his throat. He can’t think. Can’t speak. Can’t do anything except hold the shattered pieces of himself together until he can get away from here. (Then he’ll let go. Then he’ll break. Then he’ll scream and tear himself apart.)

Not yet.

He makes it all the way to the bottom of the ladder without screaming. It’s a triumph of will over the drowning pain.

‘Just one more step... keep walking... keep breathing... hold it together...’

Lee stumbles and catches his balance, Kara’s face flashing into his mind for a moment, then fading again. Someone shoves a post flight checklist into his hands, but it drops from limp fingers. Someone else scoops it up, their hand warm against his shoulder. Galen is there, talking to him in a low voice. His tone concerns Lee... it’s worried, for some reason, and that makes no sense. After a minute, even he turns away, striding to the side, and Lee stumbles forward again, weaving as he heads across the floor to the door.

‘Kara’s dead. Kara’s dead. Kara’s dead...’ his mind chants in time to his steps.

Somewhere there’s an alarm ringing, the smell of burning tylium sharpening the air. Cally is standing next to a bulkhead, wide-eyed and terrified. She steps toward Lee as he passes, her hand rising as if to touch him, but he pushes past her without a word. Just breathing is taking all of his focus. To talk to someone will leave him screaming in horror on the floor. He swallows again and again, fighting down the bile in his throat.

The worlds have ended a second time.

A woman working with an extinguisher calls out for the Chief, and with the sound of her voice, Kara’s words are alive in Lee’s mind once more. It’s a moment from years ago... something he’s spent any amount of time (and guilt) trying to forget, but it’s here now, bright and clear. He can smell the candles on the table. Taste the ambrosia on his tongue (and hers). See her lean in one more time.

“You’re tempting fate,” Lee had told her.

“If I have a fate, then it is set... and thinking about it isn’t gonna make it happen any faster.”

In the memory she is smiling up at him – gold-green eyes and full lips – the image of her, bright with life, tearing away another layer of his self-control. Apollo stumbles a third time, stopping to pant as he waits out the vertigo. On the far side of the hangar deck, there’s a blur of movement, but he hardly notices.

“Okay, fair enough,” Lee had told her. ”But flying when you’re thinking about dying and... it’s a bad way of doing business. You’re going to get scared and you’re going to start second guessing yourself.”

“I’m not scared,” she’d answered calmly.

“You said that you think about dying every time that you get into a cockpit.”


Standing here today, Lee feels bitter tears prickling at his lids and he storms forward. He can’t break... not yet. Not where people can see.

“Yeah... but it doesn’t scare me,” she’d insisted. “Like, that’s what you don’t get...”

“What, so it’s... um... Kara Thrace, the fearless warrior, right?”

“No... I... I know fear. And I get scared. Just... Just not of dying.”

Lee blinks in shock, realizing that she told him this – years before! – but that he was too damned blind to see it. She’d told him she didn’t trust herself today. She’d warned him. But he’d put her into the viper anyway. He’d told her he’d fly her wing... that he’d keep her safe.

And he’d failed.

“So then what does scare you?” his voice asks from the past.

“Mmm...” she’d said with the slow smile that always took his breath away. “Being forgotten.”

The movement on the side has gotten closer in the last seconds. This time Lee’s feet stop on their own, his head bobbing up in shock to see Anders barrelling toward him, fists raised. Lee doesn’t even react as her husband reaches him, hand pulling back to attack.

“How could you?!” Sam roars, a blow to Lee’s gut punctuating his words. “How could you let her go in?”

Lee stumbles backward, stomach throbbing. He lifts his hands, but they are loose and open, indifferent in the daze of grief.

“So sorry, Sam,” he gasps, face twisting in horror. “I tried...”

Sam swings again. This time the fist reaches Lee’s jaw, the power behind it taking him almost to his knees.

“You let her die!” Sam howls. He’s looming over Lee, his expression intense and furious, a look Lee hardly recognizes. “You let Kara go in and you left her there and she died!”

‘Kara’s dead. Kara’s dead. Kara’s dead...’

“So sorry,” Lee repeats. He can’t say anything else. (Sam’s right, you see. He did let her die.)

Anders’ hand pulls back, slamming forward against the bridge of Lee’s nose, shattering the bone. This time he goes down hard, the impact ricocheting through his knees. He lurches drunkenly up to his feet as Sam wheels on him once more.

“She LOVED you!” Sam cries, voice breaking, “and you let her DIE out there. How could you?”

Lee steps backward, his head swinging back and forth in denial. Blood is streaming down his chin, spattering the front of his flight suit.

“I... I tried, Sam. I did...” he gasps. But it’s not enough. Nothing is ever going to be enough.

“No,” Kara’s voice purrs. “I know fear. And I get scared. Just not of dying.”

Lee is stunned and confused, tears mixing with the blood on his face. Sam lunges, and for the first time Apollo retaliates. For a few endless second, they grapple together. On instinct, Lee throws a punch and it connects, his knuckles pulsing like toothache.

‘I can feel that...’ his mind announces

He begins swinging wildly, his pain forcing him into action, fists given a voice. Together, the two men are evenly matched. They roar, clinging together, while around them people turn in their tasks, horrified by the bloodsport. Sam is panting hard, roaring as they fight. Lee’s mind is trapped outside himself, random thoughts – ‘Kara walked here... we sat under the wing... she asked how things were with Dee...’ – running through his mind. For a split second, he’s lying under the New Caprican stars.

“What’re we going to do?” Kara’d asked him.

“What are we going to do...? We accept it,” Lee had insisted. “Tomorrow I’ll tell Dualla. You tell Sam.”

“Just like that?”

“Just like that.”

He remembers her face now. The fear.

“I don’t know...” she’d whispered.

Suddenly Sam shoves him off and Lee tumbles backward. His head slams against the metal grating of the floor and Sam crawls half on top of him. Anders is roaring and crying, tears and blood smeared across his face.

“She loved you,” Sam bellows in pain, the two of them struggling together. From somewhere far away, Lee can hear footsteps pounding toward across the deck. “She loved you so much and YOU LET HER DIE!”

“I know!” Lee screams.

It is a sound of anguish and shame. Sam pulls back his fist, slamming it home just as the Chief and the other knuckledraggers arrive. The cry is the last sound Lee makes before unconsciousness pulls him under the surface of night. But even in the darkness, he’s standing alone.

Kara’s already gone.

: : : : : : : : : : 
Part 2: Wells of the Heart

: : : : : : : : : :

There are different wells within your heart.
Some fill with each good rain,
Others are far too deep for that

: : : : : : : : : :

They sit in sickbay side by side. The two men of one woman: Lee and Sam. Husband and lover; spouse and almost-brother; colleague and friend. There are so many words that describe them but trapped here now, Sam finds himself struggling to find centre once more. Kara has always been the axis around which they follow. Without her here, they are both satellites untethered... lost and drifting in the cosmos.

Cottle stands before Anders, wrinkled face tight and scowling as he works. Two steps away, Ishay washes out Lee’s cuts, the tang of alcohol sharpening the air. Ander stares numbly as the medic works: takes in the torn bridge of Lee’s shattered nose, the ripped skin of his lip, the lanced knuckles. Apollo has been broken and bloodied at Sam’s own hands, the smooth surface of his composure destroyed. Seeing him now, a conversation intrudes.

“What’s going on?” Sam had asked.

“What’s it look like?” Dee’d answered.

“Looks like they’re trying to kill each other...”

She’s smiled, but anger sharpened the expression.

“That’s one perspective.”

Remembering it leaves him fighting nausea and he turns his eyes back to Cottle. For a long while, his gaze is trapped there on the dancing end of his cigarette, the red ember like a centurion’s eyes, moving... endlessly moving... while the doctor repairs the damage to Sam’s face and hands. Anders doesn’t even remember when they took them to sickbay, but he’s here now. And so is Lee. Another step. And another.

Each one another moment after Kara’s death.

Stitching complete, Cottle tugs the thread tight, pulling it taut before snipping it away. Sam winces; his eyes are watering again, and it strikes him that he might be crying... or perhaps he’s not. He’s so numb he can no longer tell. There’s the sound of footsteps and the curtain around the four of them hisses back. Behind it, two officers wait. They step forward, angling toward Sam. Cottle glances over, glaring at them under his bushy brows.

“I’m not done,” he grumbles.

“Any idea how much longer, sir?” the first, nameless man asks.

Cottle scowls, turning back to Sam, wiping smears of menthol-scented ointment into the wound.

“Anders is almost cleaned up...” He clears his throat. “But Apollo’s gonna be a while.”

Sam stares at the men, struggling to bring his foggy mind into focus, but he cannot think beyond Kara’s death. In front of him, Doc Cottle adds a layer of gauze to the cut above his eye, taping it neatly, then turns back to the soldiers once more.

“You can take him now,” Cottle mutters, “but he’ll need the dressing on that cut changed twice a day.” He gestures to Sam’s forehead. “I’ll have someone come down to clean it up tonight.”

“You need to come with us, Mr. Anders,” the second officer says, lifting a set of cuffs.

At that announcement, Lee suddenly reacts. His face is still damaged and bloody, one eye swollen almost closed, but he shakes his head fiercely.

“No,” he growls, the word thick and gutteral. “He stays.”

The officers glance warily between Lee and Cottle, and Sam realizes, in a sort of absent shock, that they’re here to take him away. That he’s about to be taken down to the brig. (He’s assaulted an officer after all.)

“Sir...?” the soldier asks – to Cottle or Lee – Anders doesn’t even know.

Lee turns, his eyes catching hold of Sam’s for the first time since the hangar deck. There’s no anger there, just terrible pain.

“It’s fine... I’m not pressing charges.”

: : : : : : : : : :

Lee doesn’t see Sam again for a week. By then Lee has been removed from flight rotation, forced into security detail instead. Lee hates his father for it. Hates Baltar too, for what it’s worth, and Romo he doesn’t understand at all. But in the end, it doesn’t change the decision. He moves forward, step by step, day by day, her voice with him at odd moments.

“If I leave Sam... will you still leave Dee?” she whispers to him from the darkness.

“My Gods, Kara! I mean... How do I know that tomorrow you’re not going to pull another one-eighty? I mean these are our frakking marriages we’re talking about. It’s not some stupid dogfight we can just jinx our way out of.”

“Think about it, Lee... that’s what you’re best at.”

He winces, sliding his hand into his pocket and fingering the photograph there. He’s just come from the memorial wall (again), where he has (again), been unable to leave her behind. He knows it’s time. Knows that he needs to take the step, but he can’t yet. Because it would be too much like letting her go, and he’s spent his whole life doing exactly that. Instead, Lee runs his fingers over the smooth surface of the photograph, imagining her grin, the shirt that is a little too low, the laughter in her eyes. He can imagine it all beneath his fingertips, and he’s so lost in the thoughts that Racetrack is almost next to him before he sees her.


Lee slides the photograph deeper into his pocket. He couldn’t have Kara before, but he hoards her now. Refuses to let her go. Lee swallows hard, standing straighter.


Maggie smiles, but it’s tight and worried.

“There’s a problem down on the deck, sir,” she says. “We’ve been looking everywhere for you.”

Lee frowns in confusion. He’s not on CAP (because he’s not flying) and Baltar’s back in his cell. So Lee’s not scheduled to do anything at all.

“Sorry, what...?”

She shakes her head, turning and gesturing for Lee to follow.

“It’s Anders,” she mutters. “He’s drunk and we can’t get him down off Starbuck’s bird.”

Lee flinches at her name, but if Racetrack notices, she doesn’t say. In awkward silence, Apollo follows her back to the hangar deck. As she has described, Sam is up on Kara’s viper, a bottle of ambrosia in one hand, a cubit in another. He’s flipping it over and over again while the ring of people watch.

“One more for heads,” he mumbles, catching the coin and slapping it down against the wing of the bird. “Heads! Did you see that? Four in a row... It's a frakking miracle.”

He sees Lee standing below him and winces. There’s more than just pain there now... there’s shared heartache too. It’s almost too much for Lee to bear. Sam lifts the bottle, swallowing before lifting the coin, holding it for everyone to see.

“Watch this... one more time. It's going to be—” Lee drops his eyes for a moment, Anders’ sorrow too raw to watch. Like seeing him naked. But Sam catches him. “Watch!” he cries. “It’s heads! Every time.” He flips the coin again, slapping it with a ping against the wing. “You see that?” he says anxiously. “It's heads!”

One of the knuckledraggers steps nearer, hands outstretched.

“Hey, why don't you come down from there?”

Sam shakes his head, the movement almost toppling him.

“I... I'm just fine right here, man.”

He flips the cubit again, slapping it down, his legs sliding dangerously near the edge. When he looks at it, his face ripples with emotion.

“Heads!” he calls. “You see that? My girl's too lucky to check out.”

The rest of the people around him are staring at Lee, waiting for him to react. He steps forward, trying to force his words to be calm. He doesn’t want to be here. Looking at Sam is like seeing a flayed version of himself. There’s too much misery to be contained by one man.

“Hey, Sam,” he says quietly.

Around him, people step back, as if giving him space. People watching the two of them. Lee has the sudden and unpleasant realization, that he’s not the only one who can see the similarity.

Anders smiles, lifting up the bottle and gesturing to him.

“Lee,” he says with a laugh, and then his expression tightens. “Apollo...”

“Just stay there, buddy,” Lee says quietly. “You're flying.” He talks to Sam the way he once talked to Kara, when she was drunk and grieving for his brother, angry at the world. The two of them stumbling from bar side by side. “Let's just get down and get some sleep,” he urges. “Come o¬n...”

Anders’ face twists, the underbelly of desolation exposed for a split second, before the forced grin returns.

“I... I'm fine,” he argues. “I'm just gonna sit down...” But he stumbles hard, banging his knee down against the wing.

People are moving around, trying to see what’s going on. Lee steps closer, hands rising.

“You all right?”

Sam tries to smile, but the effort is too much and the despair slides in to take its place.

“She wasn't supposed to...” he mumbles drunkenly, struggling to get up.

And suddenly she’s back between them again. Kara. She may be dead, but she’s never stopped being everything to each of them.

“Come on, Sam,” Lee says gently. “Come down.”

Anders shakes his head angrily.

“No, I gotta—”

The rest of the words are cut off by his fall.

“Sam! Frak!” Lee snaps.

Every is suddenly moving, and Lee struggles to meet Anders’ side. He has the sudden, irrational thought, that Kara would be angry if she knew that Lee let Sam get hurt. And that thought, of all things, has him fighting tears.

“Frak... Is he okay?” Lee mutters, kneeling down next to Kara’s husband.

Anders is writhing, his leg twisted at an impossible angle. Perched like this it’s almost too much for Lee to manage... too much like the day she died when Sam had been the one over top of him, screaming.

“She loved you so much and you let her die...”

Anders groans, reaching out for Lee, grabbing hold of his arm.

“Ah... I think I fell,” he mumbles drunkenly.

Lee winces.

“Sam, you okay?”

He knows of course, he’s not. He knows it just as well as he knew when Kara told him she didn’t trust herself that she shouldn’t fly, that he should listen to his gut. But Lee needed her to hear he believed in her. That after everything, she was the one he trusted.

Sam looks up at him, his hand tight against Lee’s arm, eyes dilated with pain.

“She's still alive, right?” he gasps.

Lee blinks back sudden tears.

“ No,” he mutters. “She's gone, Sam... she's gone.

Around them, people are stepping back, giving them space. A circle growing slowly on the floor. And it strikes Lee that with Sam holding onto him, that somehow they balance. They have a new centre now... it’s just an empty well of grief.

“I know,” Sam gasps, the first tears running down his face.

Lee nods, but cannot answer.

: : : : : : : : : :

Part 3: A Great Favour

: : : : : : : : : :

Love sometimes wants to do us a great favour:
hold us upside down and shake all the nonsense out.

: : : : : : : : : :

One day, weeks after Kara dies, Sam suddenly realizes that he’s become friends with Lee Adama without intending to.

He doesn’t know when it happened, but it did. Sometimes, as he lies in his bunk at night, he thinks it might have been the moment when he fell from Kara’s viper, and Lee walked beside his stretcher to sickbay, waiting for his leg to be set. Other times, Sam thinks it was far before this... the moment, perhaps, when Lee turned the soldiers away. Or even, his mind whispers, the moment the two of them fought together on the floor of the hangar deck, tearing one another apart. Two men, joined in their unquenchable sorrow.

In the end, it doesn’t matter how. It only matters that it’s happened. With Lee no longer flying, and Sam doing odd jobs aboard Galactica, there’s no reason for them not to be friends. Strangely enough, the thing that once kept them apart – the love of Kara – now weaves a net around them, bringing them together in ways Anders would have never expected. Her name comes up at odd moments. Admissions tethering the two men together as they grieve.

“She loved you, you know?” Sam tells Lee over dinner one night, not even bothering to couch his words in falsehood. (There’s no point anymore. She did, and he knows it.)

Lee makes a choking sound, his face going white. He sets down his fork, staring at it for a long time.

“No, Sam,” he says quietly. “She didn’t.”

Anders takes another bite, not bothering to chew it. The food is made of ashes, as is everything in the world these days. He swallows before he answers.

“She did, actually... Kara told me she did.”

He watches as Lee’s expression changes. For a moment all the pain is there, and then that mask of self-control is back, hiding him in plain sight. In the last weeks Sam has learned to look past the stony facade, to read the truth in the tightness of Lee’s jaw, in the tone of his words. Sitting here now, Sam can see that the other man is being torn to pieces by the news.

“Kara didn’t love me,” Lee repeats tonelessly. “She never did.” He flinches. “But I did love her,” he adds.

Sam smiles sadly.

“I told her to go to you...” Anders admits. There’s no reason not to tell the truth anymore. “But she couldn’t choose.”

Across from him, Lee’s face tightens. The mask is there, but it’s cracked.

“You told her...?”

Sam nods and takes another bite.

“Told her if she loved you she should go.” He sighs wearily. “I shouldn’t have pushed her but I just... I wanted her to choose, you know?”

Lee’s face tightens until it’s almost a grimace.

“Yeah,” he says tightly. “I know.”

Sam lets out a slow sigh, dropping his cutlery into a half-empty plate, watching as Lee jumps at the clatter.

“I’m sorry I pushed her about it... I knew she loved you...” ( “No! She loved YOU Sam,” Lee interrupts, but Anders isn’t done talking.) “...and I just... I wanted her to decide once and for all.” He laughs mirthlessly. “Should’ve known it’d never be that simple.”

Lee smiles sadly, the expression the first real emotion he’s shown since her name came up.

“Not with Kara,” he says sadly.

For a long moment they simply sit in silence, and then Lee speaks again.

“I pushed her too,” he mutters – the admission hanging in the air, “and for what it’s worth, I’m... I’m sorry.”

Sam nods. There’s a third person at the table now, and she sits watching them, a smirk tugging up one corner of her lips, her foot balanced on the table’s edge. Anders wonders if Lee can feel her there too. Because she’s as real to him as she was the day he met her.

‘Stupid frakking thing to tell him...’ she says, rolling her eyes. ‘Not gonna help either of you.’

It’s too painful to sit here and watch Lee fall apart, so Sam pushes his chair away, walking out of the room. Resigned to waiting out another day and another night, the hours filled, as always, by her ghost.

“I’ll see you round, Apollo,” Sam calls over his shoulder.

Lee doesn’t even look up.

: : : : : : : : :

Lee spends his free hours in the projection room, a bottle in hand. He watches her death over and over so many times that it begins to feel like the only real thing that ever happened to him. The only thing he can believe in. And yet strangely enough, when it gets to that last moment, the one where she tells him that they’re waiting for her, he always expects it to end differently. Expects her to pull up.

To come back to him.

He has told Sam, more than once, that she’s dead and gone, and yet here, alone with the taste of ambrosia burning his throat, he lets the dark side of hope eat away at his soul. And then, when she disappears in a flash of light and sparks, he lets himself die alongside her, again and again.

It’s one of these nights that Sam finds him. This day hasn’t been any worse than any other – but he’s feeling raw tonight. Romo’s words have worked their way under his armour. And he feels them there now, rattling around inside his chest. Leaving him unsettled and morose.

“So what did you take from me?” Lee had asked him.

“Hmm... I was thinking, the photograph that you carry. The girl... the pilot. The one you’re carrying...”’ Lee’s fingers had gone to it in panic. “But you’ve had enough stolen from you already...”

Lee takes a shaking breath, lifting the photograph from his pocket, stroking over and over her cheek. He knows that she’s not coming back. It’s been with him for weeks, but now there’s no denying it. And suddenly tonight – drunk and exhausted – it’s too much to handle.

Lee slumps down in the seat, the screen playing her last moments out in a blur of colour and staticky sound. He’s sobbing hard, his hand pressed up against his mouth, but the dam has been broken by Romo’s words and he can no longer keep it inside anymore. And so he drowns himself in the bottom of the bottle, tears washing over him.

He never even hears the door to the projection room open.

“Lee...?” a voice behind him suddenly ask. “Lee, you in here?”

He wipes at his face, trying desperately to bring himself back under control. Trying to tamp down the sobs that are heaving from his chest. Sam’s already heard him though, and Lee turns just as he walks forward, his eyes on the screen. Anders’ face is rapt with grief.

He’s never seen this footage before.

“Yeah, Sam,” Lee mutters. “I’m here.”

By the reflected light of the projector, Anders looks like he’s been skinned alive. He turns to Lee, grief stricken.

“You... you all right, man?” he stammers.

Lee wants to lie, but he can’t. On the screen, Kara’s viper is headed down into the storm, her words echoing around the two of them.

“Lee, I’ll see you on the other side.”

“Kara, please listen to me! Come back!”

“Just let me go...”

“I’m... I’m sorry, Sam,” Lee stammers. “I should’ve been able to stop her. I shouldn’t have let her fly...” His words tumble out in a rush. The admission unstopped once it begins. “I should’ve known she wasn’t okay. I should have kept her safe. I should’ve—”

Anders shakes his head, putting a heavy hand against Lee’s shoulder.

“Wouldn’t have changed anything,” he says quietly. “Kara always did whatever she wanted.”

Lee’s eyebrows pull together in pain. Sudden realization tearing a hole in his chest.

“Except with us.”

Sam’s face crumples for a moment, his body contracting down as if waiting for a blow.

“She loved us both,” Anders says is a whispered voice. “And we never let her...”

Lee takes a sobbing breath.

“Both...” he repeats.

And then unable to speak, he lifts the bottle and drinks, letting the burn of alcohol drown out his pain. Sick with grief, he pushes the bottle over to Sam next, and the two of them sit, alone in the dark, watching the woman they both loved die over and over again.

: : : : : : : : : :

Kara isn’t sure when she realizes that it’s Lee following her.

In a strange way, it’s like awaking from an endless dream, suddenly finding oneself someplace and somewhere else. She takes a slow breath, recycled oxygen filling her lungs, her body humming in excitement. She’s been to Earth... flown above fields and trees. Felt the rush of wind on her skin. Breathed in air so pure she could taste it.

And now she’s back.

She spins the viper, feeling the rush of G-forces, darting through the nebula and back again, her eyes on Apollo’s bird. The chatter is coming through her headset, the voices from CIC echoing staticky in her ears.

“Alert vipers are away,” Gaeta’s disembodied voice announces.

“Who’s in viper three?” Helo snaps, and Kara holds in the urge to giggle. Karl sounds furious.

“I’m in viper three,” Lee answers, his viper darting back and forth. “I have a bogey at my ten. I’m going to go check it out.”

Kara smiles at the sound of Lee’s voice, revelling in the feel of flying together. She slams forward on the stick, viper shooting forward, then spinning around him. She hasn’t felt this alive in forever. It’s like the grief she’s been carrying on her shoulders has suddenly been lifted. She knows where they are going! And now she just needs to lead them there.

“Where’d he go... Where the frak did you go,” Apollo mutters, and Kara turns an Aeriolon axle to get on the other side of him. She watches his head swinging back and forth in the cockpit, trying to catch sight of her. “What the frak?!?”

Seconds earlier, she’d dropped down behind him, but now she pulls forward, matching his speed until she’s right by his side.

“Hi, Lee,” she says with a smile.

“Kara?” he gasps, his face contorting in shock.

“Don’t freak out... it really is me,” she says with a chuckle. “It’s going to be okay. I’ve been to Earth... I know where it is and I’m going to take us there...”

: : : : : : : : : :

Part 4: Pieces of the Soul

: : : : : : : : : :

Your love
Should never be offered to the mouth of a stranger,
Only to someone who has the valor and daring
To cut pieces of their soul off with a knife
Then weave them into a blanket
To protect you.

: : : : : : : : : :

Sam sees the two of them clinging together. Lee’s face, grief stricken, pressed up against his wife’s hair. The sight doesn’t tear at him the way he expects it to. Instead he finds, in the strangest way, it feels like everything has found balance again. The two of them no longer lost... but found, in finding her.

Sam jogs forward, Kara’s words coming to him from afar.

“Okay... okay, me too,” she mutters, her hands running over Lee’s back. “It’s okay. It’s okay...”

He can see Lee fighting tears, the sudden relief leaving him shaking as he clings to her.

“I told everyone that you were too frakking mean to kill!” Sam calls out with a grin.

Lee is still holding Kara as Anders reaches his side. Seeing Sam there, Lee abruptly moves to release her, but Sam grabs hold of Lee’s arm, dragging him back into the fold. Their eyes meet above Kara’s head. For the count of two heartbeats, Apollo resists, anger sparkling in his gaze. Sam holds on. And then Lee’s expression shifts – pain and longing visible – and he gives in. Suddenly Kara is pressed between the two of them. The two men on either side of her, holding her in between them. Their bodies echoes of her form.

The centre of their orbit is back.

Kara snort, twisting to glance from Lee to Sam in amusement.

“Well this is cozy,” she drawls, but neither man answers her.

Lee has his face against her hair again, his eyes pressed closed. He’s breathing in sharp gasps, close to tears. Sam, on the other hand, cannot stop looking at her. He draws in her details like water to parched soils. She looks, Anders thinks in relief and awe, exactly the same. The same moles and freckles and hair. Everything perfect.

Kara’s eyes widen as she catches sight of his flight suit.

“What the hell are you doing in a jock smock?” she asks in surprise.

“I just finished Viper transition a week ago and I started ACM.”

Kara frowns, twisting in the three-way embrace to glance at Lee for affirmation.


He opens his eyes at her question, his love for her visible and sharp. Everything is at the surface, too raw. Seeing it, Sam’s hand tightens on Lee’s shoulders. Anders knows what’ll happen if Lee pulls away from her again. Sam’s not letting them tear Kara apart. Not now.

“It’s true,” Apollo says quietly. “Sam’s a pilot now.”

She twists again, facing Sam, her face tightening.

“Okay, what the hell’s going on?” she growls. “I’m off the ship for a few hours and everybody’s acting like—”

“A few hours?” Sam interrupts. He shakes his head, feeling his chest tightening in concern. Nothing makes sense. “Kara, you were gone for over two months.”

She tugs away from the two men, taking a single step back, and then another, her hands rising in fists. Anger wrapping around her. Ready to fight them both.

This is the wife that Sam remembers.

“That’s impossible,” she barks. “My ship’s clock reads six hours and change!”

Lee’s the one who answers.

“Then your clock’s wrong, Kara.” He turns, giving Anders a weak smile, before adding the rest. “Sam’s telling you the truth. We thought you were dead...”

: : : : : : : : : :

“I don’t know,” Lee mutters, refusing to meet Anders’ eyes. “I can’t, Sam... I just can’t—”

“She believes in Earth!” Sam snaps. “The Admiral’s given her command of the Demetrius and she’s going to look for the way there, Lee.” He pauses, his voice changing. “You should be there too.”

Lee scowls at the floor, unable to hold the other man’s gaze. He knows what Sam’s doing. (Anders has tried to talk to him about this before). But it doesn’t make it any easier. Sam wants Kara to have what she needs. And if she wants them both at her side, then he’s going to try and give it to her. Lee’s hands tighten into fists at the thought.

He can’t share her... doesn’t want to.

“Lee,” Sam growls, stepping nearer. “She’s never gonna ask you herself.”

Lee’s face bobs up, catching the other man’s eyes. There’s pain and frustration there, and something else Lee recognizes but doesn’t totally understand. It’s the willingness to let Kara stand between them, because that’s what she needs, and not the other way around.

Again, the tight coil of jealousy tightens. It frustrates Lee that Anders is willing to do this.

“C’mon, man...” Sam pleads. “She trusts you...”

Apollo shakes his head, teeth grinding together as he fights to locate the reason ‘why not’ under all his layers of emotions. He still loves Kara – if anything he loves her more now that she’s back – and he doesn’t hate Anders anymore... he can’t. But that’s not an answer either.

“Frak, Sam... I just don’t know if I can,” he mutters. Apollo turns to him, hands going to his hips. “How can you be okay with this?”

Anders sighs in relief, the decision already made.

“Just leave the guilt to me,” he laughs, punching Lee lightly on the shoulder. “I’m her husband, right?”

Lee cringes, but Sam’s already walking away. He turns back at the end of the corridor, smiling tiredly.

“We leave in six hours, Apollo. Better say your goodbyes.”

: : : : : : : : : :

Kara’s been awake for nearly three days when Sam drags Lee into the commander’s quarters. Her husband has been in and out of her periphery, arguing with her, trying to get her to eat, but Lee has kept himself away.

Not now. Not anymore.

The crew, you see, is close to mutiny, and each day they delay brings it closer. Lee stands before her, his hands on her shoulders while Sam watches on, two steps away. If Kara wasn’t so tired she’d almost wonder when the two of them stopped fighting, but she’s so exhausted she feels drunk. Like bugs are crawling under her skin. Like she’s not Kara at all, but something else.

“You need to sleep,” Lee repeats for the third (fourth? tenth?) time. “Sam tells me you haven’t gotten more than a couple hours in the last week, Kara. That’s just—”

“None of your frakking business,” she snaps. “I’ll do what I want!” She smiles coldly, aiming the blow to hurt. “You’re not my gods-damned husband!”

“Kara...” Sam says wearily.

Across from her, Lee frowns, gesturing to the paintings that swirl over the walls, the star charts and constellation maps that clutter the surfaces.

“You’re no good to anyone if you can’t think straight.”

“Nobody made you come along!” she hisses, shrugging off his hands and crossing her arms on her chest. Anders steps nearer to the two of them and Kara glares at him, abruptly furious. “And you, Sammy. What the frak are you doing dragging Lee into this anyhow? This isn’t anyone’s business but mine!”

“Kara...” This time it’s Lee’s words, patient and weary. She shoves past, but both men follow her, leaving her fighting the urge to throw a punch.

“You need to sleep,” Sam says, echoing Lee’s earlier words.

“I need you BOTH to frak OFF!” Kara barks.

“I’ll go through the charts while you rest,” Lee offers, “I’ll see if I can find any—”

Kara spins, anger flaring to life.

“I don’t NEED you to do this for me!” she snarls. “Now get OUT!”

Lee turns toward the door, his face tight and furious but Sam stops him with a hand to his arm.

“I told him he could be here,” Anders growls. “He’s here because I asked him to come. Because I’m worried about you.”

Two steps away from her, Lee’s waiting, his expression going back to that oil and water mixture of anger and longing. Kara loves and hates it about him. That his feelings for her are still alive after all this time.

“Go!” she snaps at him, “I told you to LEAVE!”

Lee takes another step, but stops as soon as Sam shakes his head.

“Don’t,” Sam mutters.

Seeing it, Kara wheels on her husband. She shoves him hard, feeling the impact of her hands on his chest shudder through her arms. It’s the first real things she’s felt anything since this sham of a mission began. She wants to fight him now... wants to fight both of them. (Or something else... but she doesn’t let that thought play out.)

“Kara,” Sam growls, his hands tight around her biceps. “You’re so tired you’re not thinking straight... you’re gonna make yourself sick. You don’t even know what you want anymore.”

“Please just get some sleep,” Lee pleads from someplace behind her, the sound of his voice rough and thick. He doesn’t really want to be here either. With that in mind, she smiles, her eyes narrowing coldly, moving from Sam to Lee. Husband to lover.

“I don’t want to fight, Sammy,” she says, then glances over at Lee, smirking. “And if you brought Lee here then...” She laughs angrily. “Well, maybe he should stay.”

“What do you want...?” Lee asks. His words are barely a whisper, but she hears them as if he’s shouted them aloud.

She stands for a moment breathing hard, letting the thing that’s gone through her mind a thousand times, finally tumble forward into the room.

“I want to feel something,” she answers. “I want to feel alive... I want to frak... really frak... like it’s the end of the worlds and nothing else matters.” She raises her chin in challenge, daring the two of them to fall into the abyss with her. “So come on, the both of you... Make me feel something.”

Her expression hardens, gaze going to Lee this time. Pinning him down with a hard stare.

“I dare you...”

Lee’s expression tightens for a moment and she’s almost certain that he’s going to leave. (Realizing that she’s dragging them all to hell.) And then, just like the other long-ago time she said those exact words, he steps forward, rather than away. His expression might be rigid, but his eyes on her are hungry.

“Whatever it takes,” he hisses.

Part 5: A Tincture of Bitterness

: : : : : : : : : :

Even after all this time the sun never says to the Earth, “You owe me”
There is no pleasure without a tincture of bitterness.

: : : : : : : : : :

The three of them are tangled together in the wrinkled sheets of the commander’s quarters, Kara, Lee and Sam moving together almost as one. She’s laying across the bed, kissing and caressing her husband while Lee’s mouth roves over her body, tasting and touching. She gasps in shock as he latches onto one nipple, sucking hard, the fingers of his hand biting into the skin of her breast in his impatience. She’s going to be bruised tomorrow. Hearing the sound, Sam’s eyes flicker down to the other man moving over his wife, eyebrows pulled together in concern, but Kara tugs Anders’ face back to her, kissing his worries away.

She doesn’t care if she’s going to burn. Doesn’t care if this is the end, and she’s dragging them all onto the pyre with her. For the first time in weeks she feels alive, and it’s because she has both of them here now. Lee’s mouth drops lower and lower, his teeth grazing over her hipbone before his mouth moves inward. Suddenly his tongue is sliding between her folds, hands pulling her leg over his shoulder, holding her steady. His mouth’s movements are somehow matching Sam’s kisses and that thought leaves her writhing under him. Kara’s hips buck, one hand tightening in Anders’ hair, the other dropping to stroke Lee’s brow, needing to touch them both. Wanting them at the same time.

She’s overwhelmed with sensation, each caress, each lap of Lee’s tongue, each brush of Sam’s lips against her mouth, leaving her spiralling upward on waves of ecstasy. She can feel the top hovering nearby, and she struggles toward release, desperate for more. Needing this connection with them.

She breaks the kiss, panting.

“Lee, lay down,” she hisses, and he lifts his face from between her spread thighs, his eyes dark and drugged.


“Lay down!” she snaps, and he scrambles back against the pillows, ready to comply.

She knows he expects her to climb atop him. (The memory of New Caprica is here with them tonight.) But instead she puts herself into the position he was in moments earlier, her tongue swirling over the head of his cock, mouth sliding lower. Lee hisses in pleasure his hands tangling tightly in her hair. There’s the brush of fingers and knees and suddenly she feels Sam shifting into position behind her, his cock nudging her wet heat before sliding home.

Kara’s watching Lee, revelling in his reaction to her, so she sees it when he blinks his eyes open. When he sees Sam standing there his expression changes, jealousy and fury brightening his features. There is a primal possessiveness she’s seen before. (He used to have it when she’d kiss his brother too.) She knows, somehow, that if weren’t for her, the two of them would be at each other’s throats in seconds. Kara lets her own eyes flutter closed for a split second as Sam’s movements hit exactly the right spot, and then, before the precarious balance can be unsettled, she tightens her grip on Lee’s thighs, her attention going back to him. Her lips are still wrapped around him and she moves faster, one hand, around the base of his cock, joining her mouth, stroking him until his eyes close and he groans – in frustration? In pleasure? She doesn’t know and doesn’t care. She just wants them both, and it’s enough that he’s here.

Behind her, Sam’s hands slide forward, finding her folds and stroking in time to his thrusts, leaving Kara gasping. She loses her rhythm with Lee, and his fingers loosen in her hair, stroking rather than pulling. It’s that gesture – small and kind – that pushes away the last bit of concern. Lee’s here, and so is Sam, and so is she... and as crazy as it all sounds (because it is!), she wants them both.

Sam’s fingers move faster, and she feels herself tightening down, release hovering nearby. Her skin is prickling with the buzz of energy, her body joined to Sam and to Lee, thrumming with anticipation. Suddenly she gasps aloud, breaking her hold on Lee as she shudders in release, a flash of stars behind her lids. Behind her, Sam is thrusting hard, his pace increasing with her cries. Kara’s eyes flutter back open and she catches Lee watching the two of them. He’s still laying, spread-eagle in front of her, his expression covetous. At that moment, Sam gasps in climax, his hands on Kara’s hips tightening.

“Love you,” Sam groans and then slides off of her. He falls onto the bed, panting hard.

“Love you too,” Kara whispers, but her eyes stay on Lee as she says it. He winces, as if the words are a blow, but in the next second he reaches out, putting a hand against her cheek.

“Kara...” he gasps, her name almost a cry of pain. “I don’t think...” He’s about to say something else, but she shakes her head, moving to straddle him.

“Oh we’re not done here, Lee,” she purrs. “Not yet.”

She reaches between them to position him, then slides down the length of him, revelling in the differences between the two men. Lee is thicker, Sam slightly longer. They fill her in different ways, touch her in different places. A gasp of pleasure is torn from her lips as she starts to move. Lee is under her, a groove of pain etched between his brows. She pistons against him, rocking faster, waiting for the moment that he’ll finally let go. Stop fighting her. This.

She sees it the second it happens.

His hands suddenly rise up, cupping her breasts as she rides him. His eyes are on her alone, no longer drawn to the room around him. (She knows he’s purposefully ignoring the fact that Sam is next to her, that he’s kissing her shoulder and neck, his fingers stroking gently over her back.) Lee’s eyes are trapped on Kara’s face alone, his expression almost painful as she rides him.

She can feel the tension building once more. The tightening coil between Lee’s hands at her breasts, rolling her nipples hard, and Sam’s mouth against her skin, Lee’s eyes and hers, and their bodies joined together. All of it is tangling together, drawing her higher and higher. She angles her hips forward, gasping as the sensation redoubles. Lee’s face tightens, as if pained, and she knows then that he’s fighting release, waiting for her. She smirks, pumping harder. Lee groans, and his hands drop to her waist, wrapping around her, forcing her to be still.

Without warning he flips her down to the bed. She bumps up against Sam’s shoulder and he sighs, moving out of the way. Kara has a moment to notice that her husband is now watching the two of them, an expression she doesn’t completely expect on his face. It isn’t jealousy – like Lee – but a deep sadness. But then Lee’s moving on top of her and her attention is diverted back to him. Kara gasps as Lee begins to move. In seconds he sets a gruelling pace, every nerve in her body humming with the overload of sensation. Kara moans as Lee drops his mouth to her neck, sucking and biting his way up to her jaw. She groans again as he takes hold of her hands, tangling his fingers with hers and pinning them to the bed as he moves inside her.

“Love you, Kara,” he growls against the shell of her ear, his words too low for Sam to hear. “I’ve always loved you. I love you the most... the best... always... forever...”

And with those words, she reaches the top, her body shattering around him, climax leaving her crying out, her voice loud in the room. She hovers there, lost in the feel of Lee’s body still moving inside her, Sam’s lips pressing up against her shoulder, his fingers stroking gently over her hip as Lee follows her into the centre of the storm. Falling down, down, into the circle of her arms. Gasping her name once, then sliding out of her. His body a weight, holding her to this place.

Warm and content, her exhausted body finally sated, Kara sleeps. Lee lays on one side of her, Sam on the other.

: : : : : : : : : :

In the dream, it’s midday and she’s floating above a great field of grass. Below her, the wind is swirling the meadow into ripples like the oceans of Picon where she lived when she was a child. She smiles down on the scene, breathing in the scent of wild, growing things, the fresh scent of water and life, full and verdant.

Slowly, subtly, her perception shifts, moving upward. First she sees the blue sky, and the faint smudges of clouds above, but in time, that changes too. Her attention rises through the atmosphere by degrees until the blue fades to indigo, and then to black, and she’s staring at the firmament of the heavens. The stars and planets are laid out before her. She hovers there for an endless amount of time, her mind drawing in details like the ringed planets, and the comet nearby, the constellations and the asteroid belt.

They are the match to those they saw at Kobol, in a night-time field so many months earlier, only now she can see the pattern between them. She can see the first connections to where the Demetrius waits, in an endless sea of stars. The Galactica twenty-six jumps away. All of it perfect and clear. The sharp tug of Earth back once more.

“I have a surprise for you..” a voice inside her whispers. “Are you ready? You’re going to find Kobol, birthplace of us all. Kobol will lead you to Earth. This is my gift to you...”

Like the tug of an FTL jump, something shifts inside her, Kara’s mind abruptly transforming into a sextant across the cosmos. She understands! Like the three of them together – Lee, Kara and Sam – a triangulation emerges, the path of stars overlapping, and forming a new shape. Before her eyes, the pattern is suddenly inexplicably clear and complete. A structure she understands. She smiles and the cosmos brightens like the dawn.

She remembers the way.

: : : : : : : : : :

Lee wakens in the darkness of the room. Kara’s lying beside him, her arm slung across his chest, her leg wrapped over his hip. Her eyes, in sleep, flicker back and forth behind closed lids, mouth curving in a smile. Even the sight of that leaves him fighting down a twisted knot of emotions. Shame is the strongest of them.

He glances guiltily around the room, but her husband nowhere to be seen. Lee slides out from under her, watching as her fingers, in sleep, grope from him, then finally go still. With numbed limbs, he slides his clothes back on, careful not to waken her, toeing on his boots and leaving them untied as he heads for the door.

The hallway beyond is empty, and he pauses there, tying the laces, and straightening his clothes. He feels like his sin is exposed for all to see. The guilt of his actions painted onto every surface. With a weary sigh, he turns and walks away, leaving her behind.

He’s almost back to the bunkroom when Sam is suddenly there. He’s got a clean set of fatigues – Kara’s, Lee realizes – in one hand, a tray of food in the other. He gives Lee a half-hearted smile.

“You sleep okay, man?” he asks.

Lee nods, fighting down a sharp pang of jealousy. The emotion like a knife in his side. Sam nods toward the distant hallway where Lee has just passed.

“You want to come have something to eat?”

Lee frowns, glancing at the tray.

“No... I should get going...” he mutters, “but thanks anyhow.”

Sam’s expression tightens and he steps closer to Lee, the emotion from last night – the one Lee couldn’t understand – back on his face once more. Seeing it now, he suddenly understands.

It’s desperation, pure and simple.

“Look, Lee,” Sam says. “I just... I can’t do this alone.”

Lee nods, the truth of the words hanging in the air, swirling around them. For a long moment, things balance on the edge of a blade.

“Please...” Sam begs, voice breaking. “I can’t lose her again.”

Lee closes his eyes against the truth of what Sam’s said. When he opens them again, Lee’s decided. He reaches out for the tray, unsettled emotions wrapping, bittersweet, around his heart.

“I know,” he mutters to himself as much as to Anders. “She needs us both.”

And as one, the two of them turn and go back down the hall to where Kara awaits.

: : : : : : : : : :
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