During the first few weeks after Kara's return to Galactica, she's too busy trying to get the Fleet to Earth--trying to find Earth--to notice anything. The constant pressure in her head, the desperate need that drives her, doesn't leave much room for observation. And really, it's hard to observe anything from the brig.
Even on Demetrius, she doesn't see it. Of course, she and Sam aren't really talking much then. Or at least she's not talking to him. The need is still there, and she has no room for anything from him or anyone else that isn't related to finding Earth. Even if she had noticed then, she's not sure she would have cared.
It's not until after they bring the Cylon Baseship to the Fleet--until the pressure fades and she has time to decompress, space to think again--that she begins to suspect anything.
It's Sam who gives it away, grinning at her from across the pilots' ready room (and she's still not used to having him there, wearing the same uniform she's worn for years, wearing her history across his chest), teasing her about her poor showing at Triad the day before.
"Lee told me--" he begins. She interrupts him with a sharp laugh and a rolled up jacket tossed lightly at his face.
"Do you realize that's the third time you've quoted Lee in the past hour?" she asks, torn between amusement and irritation. She doesn't like it when her two worlds collide, even if they don't seem to mind. "When did the two of you become such frakking best buddies?" She's mostly joking, trying to distract Sam away from his point--she hates losing at anything, especially cards--but he stiffens ever so slightly at her words, and seeing that, she can't resist pushing it further. "So what, did you two have some sort of mutual comfort society going while I was gone?"
She's not expecting the expression of guilt that crosses his face at those words. She's puzzled by it for a moment, and then understanding hits her like a blow to the gut, and she wonders how she missed it all this time. Mutual comfort indeed....
"I wouldn't have picked you as his type," she says flatly. Actually, she hadn't realized Lee swung that way at all. In all the years she's known him, she's only ever seen him with women. Sam, on the other hand, had always been open about his flexible preferences, but it had never occurred to her that his flexibility might extend as far as sleeping with his wife's ex-lover.
She realizes abruptly that her hands are clenched, and forces them to relax at her sides. Her face must reveal more than she intended it to, because Sam rushes to justify himself. To reassure her. "We thought you were dead," he says fiercely, stumbling over the words. He tells her that it's over, that it's been over since she got back, miraculously risen from the dead. He's barely seen Lee since then, he insists, and she believes him. Besides, she of all people can hardly criticize him for straying. Not even straying, really, since she'd been officially declared KIA. Certainly a more justifiable decision in regards to their marriage than some of hers.
Except now that she knows, she can't stop thinking about it. Can't stop asking him about it. Probing for details. Even when she knows she shouldn't.
"How did it happen?" she demands, arching upward as Sam thrusts into her.
It takes him a moment to catch up, but once he does, he freezes. Looks stricken. Protests the request. He assumes it's driven by anger. Or maybe jealousy.
He's wrong. Mostly. Okay, yes, there was anger at the beginning. Some harsh words, in response to the shock. Some unkind accusations. But the anger faded quickly, and in its place...well, Kara hasn't quite sorted out her reactions yet. But she knows what she wants here, and it isn't about punishing Sam.
She bucks her hips impatiently, and when Sam doesn't move, she flips them over in a practiced motion until she's on top, keeping him inside of her as they roll. "The first time," she insists, bracing herself over him so that she can look him in the eye. "How'd it happen? Where were you?"
Sam sighs and closes his eyes. "I broke my leg," he says reluctantly. "Lee came to check on me."
Kara pushes herself up into a near-sitting position and begins slowly moving again, rocking back and forth, maximizing her own sensations. "How do you go from checking on a broken leg to sleeping together?"
"I don't know. It just...happened."
"It just happened? So what? You tripped over your crutches and your cock landed in Lee's mouth?"
"No!" Sam opens his eyes and rubs his face. He doesn't seem to be taking much pleasure from her movement. "We...I was upset. We were both upset. It wasn't easy, you know. Losing you."
Kara feels a familiar twinge of guilt, even as she tells herself there's nothing she could have done. This isn't the part she wants to hear about. "And then what?" she asks. She begins moving more aggressively, focusing on keeping Sam hard.
"There wasn't anyone else who missed you the way I did, so we started spending a lot of time together. Talking. And then...it just seemed natural."
Natural. Amazing how one could just drift into sex without ever actually making a decision. Though the Gods know she's told herself the same story often enough. "Who started it?" She can't really picture either of them taking the initiative on this, but one of them must have.
Sam frowns. "I don't remem--I did. I kissed him."
"You kissed him," she repeats disbelievingly. She changes her rhythm, slowing down just a touch. "You're such a frakking romantic."
"Not all that romantic," he says. "I shoved him up against a wall first."
It's an appealing image, Lee against a wall with Sam pressing close, leaning down until their mouths meet, and she feels a rush of moisture between her legs at the thought. She reaches down and back, running her fingertips lightly over Sam's balls, and smiles as he jerks involuntarily at her touch. He relaxes a little at her smile and slides one hand around the back of her neck, pulling her in and raising his head until their faces almost touch.
"Can't we find something better to do than talk about Lee?" he asks softly.
She kisses him hard, then pushes him down again.
"Maybe I like talking about Lee," she says. She begins moving faster. Harder. Straight up and down now, nice and deep, the way she knows he likes it. "Who went down on who first?"
His expression changes as he finally seems to catch on to what she wants. Why she's really asking these questions. "He did. He went down on me."
"Kneeling on the floor?"
"On the bed."
She imagines that, Lee crouched over Sam, head moving up and down between Sam's legs, Sam's half-lidded look of pleasure. She shivers at the image.
"Is he any good at it?" She suspects he probably is, given her own experience, but she doesn't know if the skill transfers.
"Yeah. Yeah, he's good." Sam's finally moving with her, thrusting up in time with her movements.
"What else did you do?"
"Stuff." She draws out the word slowly, letting him know that she knows he's teasing her. Apparently he's going to make her ask for details. "Did you frak him? Did he frak you?"
"Isn't that what I just said?"
"You know what I mean."
Sam's breathing harder now. "No, we didn't. Not the first time."
"But you did it later," she says. She's getting close now, and she wants that image. Wants to be able to picture the two of them together like that, Lee on his hands and knees or Sam bent over the bed. Wants to know exactly how they did it.
"Yeah, eventually," he says. He increases his pace and she matches him, moving fast and shallow now. "It wasn't something either of us had tried it before."
"So why'd you decide to start?"
His eyes are closed now, concentrating. "I don't know. I guess because I trusted him."
Kara freezes at his words, arousal draining away as the statement penetrates. Sam stops a half-beat later, looking up at her in confusion.
I guess I trusted him. She swallows hard, focuses her eyes on a point just beyond Sam's head. They'd trusted each other enough to try something they'd never done before. Something they'd never been willing to do before. Something Sam had never tried, with all of his varied partners. It's not what she expected. "So you two were pretty serious," she says finally.
"Yeah, I mean...we weren't planning on getting married or anything, but it was...it was intense, I guess."
She doesn't know why this admission should bother her when simple sex didn't (much) but it does. Imagining her lover and her husband in bed together is hot. Imagining the two of them in love is...something else.
"We're not...I'm not in love with him," Sam says, reading her expression. He's always been able to read her, to see through her anger and her fear. Sometimes she's grateful for that. Right now it bothers her. Her tone sharpens in response.
"Really? 'Cause it kind of sounds like you are."
Sam props up his head on his forearm, gaze calm and steady. "Lee's a good guy. He took care of me when he didn't have to. But it's over now. It ended the moment I found out you were alive."
She pulls herself off of him carefully. Swings her legs over the side of the bed, and twists her head to look back at him."And if I hadn't come back?"
It's Sam's turn to look away. "I don't know."
She itches to talk to Lee about it, to hear his side, to find out if he was in love with Sam the way she's now convinced Sam was half in love with him, but she has no idea how to bring it up, or even how to get time alone with him now that he's jumped ships to Colonial One. And truthfully, she's not sure what she'd do if she found out that Lee had loved Sam. Still loves Sam.
But then a few days later she runs into him on Galactica, hanging around the otherwise empty pilot briefing room, and she can't not ask, not when the opportunity has just been handed to her. They chat idly for a few minutes about life as the CAG and Lee's new career, and then Kara forces herself to speak up because if she doesn't do it now she never will.
"I didn't know you went in for men." Which is possibly not the best beginning, but she can't think of a more graceful way to start this conversation. There are reasons she's not the one pursuing a career in politics.
Lee lifts a startled eyebrow. "Then maybe you don't know me as well as you think."
He pauses, studying her face. She studies him in return, trying to see past the newly elegant facade that he now wears along with civilian suits. She doesn't find what she expects. There's surprise there, and concern, and realization, but no guilt. Not from him. And no hint as to his feelings toward her husband.
"Been talking to Sam?" he asks finally.
She nods, eyes still fixed on his. "He says you took care of him while I was gone." She wonders if he'll give himself away, if she pushes hard enough. If she can pull the answer out of him without directly confronting the issue. Lee's never been much of a liar.
She's not sure she can ask the question.
Lee's mouth quirks at the corner. "I didn't do a very good job. Couldn't stop him from breaking his leg."
"Sounds like you were pretty careful to see that all of his other needs were met." Her tone has more of an edge to it than she intended, and she regrets that, but not enough to apologize for it. Not now.
Lee sighs resignedly. "Kara..."
She holds up a restraining hand before he can go further. "I know, I know. You thought I was dead and the two of you were mourning together and it was all over as soon as I came back."
"Something like that." He shifts his weight uncomfortably, but keeps his eyes focused on her. "So are you and Sam still okay?"
"It does kind of even the score," she says noncommittally. She hasn't gone to bed with Sam since their last conversation on the topic, but she thinks she will soon. Once she's done sorting things out. And really, given how much she'd loved Lee--still loves Lee--she can hardly blame Sam for falling for him too. For taking what he could get, when he thought that was all he could have. "It was a lot to take in."
"I'm sorry. Neither of us meant to--"
"I know," she interrupts. She doesn't need to hear any more apologies. She's gotten enough of those from Sam. She cracks a joke, trying to lighten the mood. "It's just too bad I didn't find out a little sooner that you and Sam were so...compatible. It would have made a lot of things easier."
Lee looks surprised. "Seriously?" He tilts his head thoughtfully. "I guess it's not cheating if you're both involved."
"That would have been fun," she agrees, keeping a straight face. "But that's not what I meant. I was thinking we could have gone for something more formal. All three of us."
"Well, group marriage is a time-honoured Caprican tradition." Her tone is openly teasing now, and Lee breaks into a smile as he realizes she's only joking. Except that as she says it, she wonders why it's only a joke. "I suppose we still could, now that you're divorced," she says, keeping her tone light. "Don't politicians do better if they're married?"
"I can just picture the reactions from the Sagittarons when they find out about my two military spouses," he replies dryly.
"Too bad," she says. She leans back against the podium, her posture deliberately casual. "I guess we will just have to carry on a torrid three-way love affair instead."
"Yeah, I'll, uh, try to schedule that in next time I'm on Galactica."
He's still joking and Kara suffers a stab of disappointment, even if she is the one who set the tone. It really would have been a tidy solution, if Lee and Sam could have been convinced to live with the rumours and remarks and the effect on their reputations. And as far as she's concerned, the comments would have been more than balanced by the pleasure of watching Saul Tigh choke over the news.
Lee glances down at his watch. "I should be getting back," he says. "I've got some meetings scheduled this afternoon."
"Yeah," she agrees, and straightens up. She's let herself become sidetracked, she realizes, and now there's no way to get her answer subtly. If she really wants to know--does she really want to know?--she's going to have to ask straight up. She waits until he's nearly out of the room before she calls his name.
He pauses and turns, hand on the door. "Yeah?"
Kara takes a deep breath. "Do you love Sam?" She does her best to control her face, to keep Lee from seeing her reaction.
He hesitates for a long moment. "I don't know," he says slowly. "Things were all kind of tangled up when we were together. It only started because he was there and you were gone, and we both needed someone. It wasn't...I don't think either of us was looking for it to be more. But then it kind of developed. I guess...yeah, maybe I do. A little."
And there it is. Somehow, coming at the end of this conversation, it doesn't bother her. Not like it had when she'd read the truth in Sam's silence. Not like it had before she'd recognized the other possibilities. She wonders if she asks Sam the same question in a different tone, what he'll say, and whether the answer will be different if Lee's there when she asks it.
"Let's talk," she says impulsively. "The three of us. The next time you're on Galactica."
Lee looks puzzled. "We can do that."
"I mean it, Lee," she says firmly. No teasing now. "Schedule it in. Book it with your assistant. Whatever."
"All right," he agrees, still looking confused. "We'll talk, next time I'm here."
He glances down at his watch again. "I've got to run. I'll see you around, Kara."
"See you," she agrees.
She takes a deep breath after he's gone, and then another, and wonders what exactly she's going to say when she finally gets them together.