On the first day of the rest of her life, Kara Thrace woke up smiling.
This was an unfamiliar and surprising occurrence, as she had never been one of those dreaded "morning people." But then again, today was no ordinary day. Today was the day she would embrace her destiny.
Today, she would skate the best goddamned game that Olympic women's ice hockey had ever seen.
Kara could already hear the roar of the crowd in her head. Her eyes opened, vision sharpening as her consciousness swam to the surface and focused on the bright red digits on the strangely silent alarm cl—
"It's one o'clock." She gasped and bolted upright in the hotel bed, rapidly blinking eyes already skipping frantically to her watch for confirmation. "It's one o'clock in the afternoon!"
Kara jumped out of bed, barely skimming a glance over the guy she'd picked up in the hotel bar the previous night. Dark hair, good hands, well-muscled. Some second-stringer, she thought as she darted around scooping up clothing from the floor. She couldn't remember from where. Hell, it's not like she'd been in it for the conversation.
"What the hell happened to the alarm?" She snarled, panic setting in. "I got a game!" Warm ups had begun approximately 30 minutes prior for the final matchup between Team USA and Team West Germany. Her entire future was riding on this.
The guy groaned and levered up onto his elbows, squinting at her as she rushed around the room. Kara flicked another glance his way. He was clearly unruffled by her predicament and a hot wave of irritation coursed through her.
"I'm supposed to be on the ice…" she groped for a name, her still-addled brain tossing out something that didn't sound quite right, "Stan."
She hopped on one leg, pulling her jeans up frantically then scooping up her sports bra, badge and jersey. Jersey. Kara had a quick flash of a dark material and bright letters in her mind's eye. Anderson? Was he Swedish? She hadn't heard an accent…
"This is great. Just great. Late for the Olympics." She blew out a breath and raked a hand through her spiky hair. "I'm just about four hours late here, Sven."
"Sven?" the guy snorted, both eyebrows rising into his hairline. "You're kind of a bitch in the morning, eh?"
Okay. Canadian, not Swedish then.
Kara yanked the rest of her clothes on and grabbed her duffel bag and her boots, sweeping them up and reaching for the doorknob, still barefoot. Fuck it. She could dress as she ran. If she got there before the team took the ice in…she flicked a glance down at her wrist—
crap, twenty minutes!
—Kara knew Coach would forgive her. Hell, she was their star player. They needed her to win.
She was just about to bolt out of the room when she realized the guy was still looking at her with a piqued expression. Kara stifled a sigh. It wasn't his fault really; he was just an easy ride for the night. She shouldn't have done that fifth round of shots. She racked her brain for a final peace offering. "Sean?"
The guy frowned and slumped back on the bed, dragging a pillow over his face. From beneath its fluffy down depths came a muffled and definitely exasperated,
"Sam. My name is Sam."
Kara shrugged a shoulder and ran out the door, already forgetting everything except the way to the arena.
Thirty minutes later, she planted her skate on the ice, cheers of the crowd roaring in her ears and Kara took a deep breath. The familiar scents of leather and sweat, the lingering fumes from the Zamboni and sharp tang of chlorination rushed in, filling her nose and lungs, and Kara smiled. She was home.
The game was a nail-biter. It was deep in the third quarter and Kara was fidgeting, trapped behind the glass of the penalty box as she waited out the two-minute fine for high-sticking. As her eyes tracked the movements on the rink, she was dimly aware of the announcers' banter emanating from the radio someone had propped in the corner of the box.
"…Kara Thrace, the phenom from Boston, Massachusetts. What a super story, Bud! Here's a junior from UBoston who… well, talk about being on the fast track! The Women's Hockey League is keeping an eye on this one! You know, they've been talking about what it will take to really be a contender with the NHL and Thrace might just be the secret weapon they need to do it."
"I believe it, Al. Thrace is one of the finest skaters in amateur hockey today. She's got the speed, the stick, and she's sure got that aggressive edge. But unlike a lot of players, she's proven she's got the strategy too. Thrace's out-of-the-box thinking has gotten Team USA out of some tight spots this series."
"It sure has, Bud. And boy, those retina-detaching moves of hers are something else! She's got the kind of firepower you don't see every day. I tell you, Kara Thrace is the real deal. Mark my words, we're seeing a star on the rise!"
The voices droned on, but the buzzer sounded finally and she pushed her way out and off down the ice, blades digging hard. Kara skidded to a stop in the center of the rink. She narrowed her eyes and took in her competition, the hulking German forward across from her was sneering, looking not that different from a pit bull eyeing dinner. Kara smirked, setting her shoulders. This was supposed to intimidate her? Ha. Bring it, Helga.
The ref skated over and she dropped her gaze, focus narrowing on the small black disc he tossed onto the ice with a blow of his whistle. She shoulder-checked Helga a little bit harder than necessary, and took off, leaving the forward to choke on her ice dust.
Kara felt her instincts take hold, the stick became an extension of her hand, her feet pushing faster and faster. Deftly, she danced in and out between the opposing teammates, weaving and dodging, spinning to protect the puck until she finally got a clear shot at the net. Helga was still breathing down her neck and the rail loomed close ahead, but Kara didn't care. All that mattered was making this shot. She pitched forward hard, her body twisting awkwardly as she slapped the puck and sent it sprawling through the air. Even as she was falling into the safety glass, her eyes tracked the disc's trajectory, as it slipped just over the goalie's glove and sailed into the netting.
The crowd's roar rang in her ears as Kara's head hit the glass and heavy bodies slammed her from all sides. Her skull bounced hard into the thick plexiglass barrier and her helmet strap snapped suddenly, the headgear popping off and spinning on the pitted surface of the rink. Pain bloomed behind her right eye, sharp enough to make everything else fade, and Kara gasped and slithered down to the ice. Her last sight before she lost consciousness was the scoreboard clock running down to zero.
This had to be a joke.
Dr. Saul Tigh was not a man given to joking about business though, despite the twinkly eyes and bushy mustache that made it hard for Kara to take him seriously normally. In fact, she often had an odd feeling when she looked at the team doctor, like his easy smile was out of place somehow. He'd never so much as raised his voice around Kara, but somehow she frequently found herself imagining him with a bit of a snarl. She shook her head suddenly, trying to focus on what he was telling her.
"—posterior vitreous detachment caused a small tear in the retina, which allowed fluid to seep through and peel it away. It's actually not that different from when you get a bubble in wallpaper."
She frowned. "You're kidding me, right? I thought that was just, like, a figure of speech or something?"
"Oh, no. Retinal detachment is a very real and serious injury, sometimes with grave consequences." He tilted his head, mouth turning downwards, and Kara's back stiffened. "And I'm afraid in your condition, it's resulted in a long-term loss of peripheral vision. Eighteen degrees in your right eye, to be specific." He paused, his voice solemn. "For most people, this would be an inconvenience, but for a hockey player…"
Her mouth went dry, not so much from the words, but the look in his eyes. Fucking pity. Kara felt a chill travel down her spine and she pushed it aside. "Okay, okay. So how long before it comes back? Two months? Three?" He was already shaking his head and she swallowed and tried not to panic.
"You've had extreme trauma to your occipital lobe—"
"Six?" Six was way too long. It was half a goddamn season and her time was now. Sponsors and the pro teams weren't going to wait around. In six months they'd have some other hotshot they were circling.
"You've got a blind side, Kara." He sighed. "It's a permanent condition."
She gaped at him for a second. No. There was no way. There had to be some way to fix this. She protested, her voice growing more desperate each time he repeated that there was no cure.
"Somebody, somewhere, down in Mexico City they shoot shark piss up your nose and make you sit in traction for—"
"I'm sorry," Dr. Tigh cut her off, not unkindly. "I don't see professional hockey in your future."
Kara froze, hearing the words echo in her mind, and a flame kindled, her temper igniting. What the fuck did he know? Who was this superior asshole sitting here and telling her what she could and couldn't do? She flexed a fist, feeling a strong urge to lay him flat.
He spoke up again. "Kara, I understand how you feel, but trust me, you can still have a full life."
"With all due respect, Doc, how the hell could you understand how I feel?" she snarled.
"I was a POW for a few months back in 'Nam." He lifted a finger tapping the cheekbone under his left eye. "This one's made of glass."
She stared at him and her fist slowly unfurled. Crap. She couldn't hit a fucking POW. Some of the fury drained out of her and her shoulders slumped. No more hockey. Her whole life over. Just like that.
What the hell was she going to do now?
Eighteen Months Later
Kara swung the hammer with a punishing blow, driving the nail into the wood so hard her hand twinged. Construction hadn't been her first choice, but it was honest work. At any rate, it was better than spending her days slumped on a bar stool, drinking her way through Karl's top shelf (he'd gotten plenty sick of thatafter her first few months home). And it was something to do while she waited for responses from the letters she'd sent to every hockey coach from here to Minsk.
Not that there were many left who hadn't sent that fucking form letter rejection. They couldn't even be bothered to sign it usually. Karl gave her a concerned lecture every time another one came in, warning her not to get her hopes up. But Kara refused to give up, refused to believe the rest of her life would be spent punching a time clock and skating rings around the local boys in the bar league. There had to be something else out there.
"You're bigger than I expected."
The voice interrupted her wool-gathering and she tilted her head back, clutching a bit tighter to the wooden beams of the living room she was framing out and currently draped around. The woman below her looked to be in her 50s. Attractive with big red hair and a fancy-looking trenchcoat.
"What?" She shouted down over the music blasting from the boom box. The woman's brow wrinkled. No Botox here. Kara couldn't fathom who she might be or what she wanted.
"I've been watching your videos. You're a very exciting skater, Ms. Thrace."
Kara frowned and shifted positions, hooking her legs more tightly around the beams. "Hey look, lady, if you're a reporter, you're a little late. The story's been done."
"Actually, I'm not a reporter, I'm a coach." Kara blinked and couldn't stop the bubble of hope that immediately rose in her chest. But her natural wariness asserted itself and she tamped it down.
"This a setup?" she questioned, squinting at the stranger. "Did Karl send you out here?"
The woman just stared at her, bemused confusion on her face. "I'm not sure who Karl is, but I can assure you, I'm here of my own free will."
Kara's eyes widened. She unfolded herself and dropped down, landing gracefully on her feet. That drumline of anticipation kicked up in her heart again as she racked her brain trying to figure out where this woman could be from.
"You came down from Canada? From the reliefs?" It's the only thing that made sense she thought and let the hammer in her hand thunk down to the floor. Kara dashed over to the workbench and wrenched the dial on the radio, quieting the music to acceptable levels before running back. "I can't believe it! You got my letter." She beamed, the words tripping out in a furious stream. "Listen, you couldn't have come at a better time. I'm in the best shape of my life, skating five, six hours a night. Speed drills, stick drills, roadwork—"
"I'm not a hockey coach."
Kara paused, her mouth open, eyes darting around. She half expected to see Karl pop out, grinning and saying "Gotcha." Her gaze flicked back to the woman, her voice low and wary. "What is this?"
The redhead eyed her speculatively. "Maybe nothing," she mused softly. "Or…." The woman reached into a satchel strapped across her middle and pulled out a pair of pristine high-booted white skates. Kara's jaw dropped and she gulped in a breath. This chick had to be fucking kidding.
"Those are figure skates, lady."
Even the two beers Kara downed during the four hour limo ride didn't quell the edge of nerves thrumming through her. This was crazy. She was a hockey player, not some pansy-ass figure skater. Yet this coach, this Laura Roslin, had convinced her to give it a shot. Promised she'd make it worth Kara's while.
The truth was she probably would've done it without the payoff. She missed skating. Not just running drills alone on the pond behind Karl's bar, but competing. Striving for something. Hell, she still wanted that gold medal. It'd practically been in her grasp three years ago. And weak though it was, figure skating was still an Olympic sport. Besides, how hard could it be to twirl and leap around? Easier than taking hip checks and slapshots to the head, that's for sure. Maybe there was still a chance to make that medal hers.
She peered out the window, but couldn't see much through the tinted glass. The car rolled to a stop and Kara threw the door open and climbed out. She whistled a long, low tone, eyes big as saucers, as she took in the enormous stone mansion with its turrets and towers. There were iron bars on most of the windows. Kara half expected to look down and find a moat surrounding the damn thing.
Roslin came around the vehicle to join her. "Impressive, isn't it?"
She shrugged, "Mmmm." Her eyes swept over the structure once more. Impressive wasn't quite the word she would have used. "It's a little…much."
Roslin nodded with a slight toss of her bright red mane and simply said, "Bill likes his privacy."
Her eyes still fixed on the hulking abode before her, Kara thought that might be an understatement. The only way the big grey monolith could have been any more impenetrable was if it were in outer space or something.
She wondered about these people Roslin had told her she worked for. The Adamas. Kara had heard the name before, though she didn't pay much attention to figure skating as a general rule. Sweeping her eyes over the stone mansion again, she shivered suddenly, involuntarily, and Roslin interrupted any further thoughts with a nod of her head. "Please, follow me."
With some relief, Kara followed the woman around the side yard to a slightly smaller, barnlike structure. Roslin shoved open a heavy sliding door and Kara stepped through, blinking in surprise at the glorious sight that greeted her.
"You got your own rink," she breathed the words, her eyes darting to take in the huge expanse of ice before her.
"We have ice every day," Roslin said, with a careless gesture as she rounded the perimeter of the rink. Loud classical music was playing and in the center of the ice, a figure was spinning rapidly in a dark blur. Roslin dropped her bag next to a sleek surround sound system and clicked it off, the sudden silence loud somehow, and the blur froze on a dime, the indistinct shape reconfiguring into that of a man.
A drop-dead gorgeous, extremely pissed-off man.
The very first thing she noticed was that his eyes matched the ice. His gaze raked over her and Kara squared her shoulders and returned the onceover. He was all clenched jaw and high cheekbones, his face just as stony and sharp-angled as the castle. His hands went to his hips and Kara's eyes followed, tracking over a seriously toned spandex-clad torso, an impressive set of biceps, and heavily muscled thighs. Most male figure skaters she'd seen were on the scrawny side, but this guy looked like some kind of Greek statue.
"This isn't Shaw," he said. His tone was low, controlled but undeniably angry, as he addressed Roslin. "Where the hell is Shaw? I thought you said she'd be—"
"No." The coach waved him off with another casual gesture. "You said Shaw. This is Thrace. Kara Thrace."
Eyes narrowed, he sent another dismissive gaze sliding over her. "Thrace? Never heard of her."
Kara felt a prickle of irritation and raised a brow at Roslin. "He's a real charmer, eh?"
Roslin gave her that chilly, polite smile she'd been flashing all day and Kara thought, not for the first time, that the woman really should go into politics. But the coach simply turned back to the figure on the ice. "Kara is a beautiful skater."
She tried not to roll her eyes. Beautiful wasn't really the word most people used to describe her skating. Brutal, bone-crushing, balls-out…yes. Beautiful…not so much. But recognition was dawning in the ice prince's eyes finally.
, she thought, puffing out her chest.
"You're that hockey player." His lip lifted in a little sneer and his tone dripped with derision.
Clearly, someone had a chip on his shoulder.
He wouldn't be the first spoiled rich brat she'd ever dealt with. Stepping forward onto the ice, she held out a hand and tried on her best smile. "How ya doing?" She racked her brain for the name Roslin'd given her. "Lee, right?"
He simply stared at her outstretched hand for a few seconds, as if it were a dead fish or something. Then Roslin said, with a hint of exasperation finally breaching that calm tone, "It's a tryout, Leland," and he rolled his shoulders and reached out, his grasp hard, fingers folding tightly over hers and immediately tugging her closer to him. It was unexpected and Kara's feet slid a little on the ice. She lifted her head to find those cold eyes boring into her again, this time from mere inches away, but her hand was warm in his grasp, little sparks traveling up her arm from where their palms pressed together. Kara's eyes widened and he dropped her hand abruptly, sliding back a step. For a second, she thought she saw surprise on his face too, but then he scowled and she figured she'd imagined it.
He turned to Roslin, his face hard. "This isn't going to work."
Kara blinked; they hadn't even skated yet.
The coach crossed her arms and leveled a definitely skeptical gaze at Lee. "And why is that?"
Kara frowned, wondering what the heck his problem was, as he skated around her in a tight circle, eyes still sweeping up and down her body. "She's too big. How am I supposed to lift her?"
Her eyebrows raised. First Roslin, now this jerk making cracks about her weight. She opened her mouth to give him a piece of her mind, but the coach spoke first. "She's a little bigger than the average skater, but so are those biceps. You're already bench-pressing 300 lbs, but if you can't handle it, we can increase your strength training."
He sniffed, but didn't respond, still peering at Kara, his gaze now focused on her head. "The hair is awful." Kara had to give him that one. In retrospect, cutting it herself in the bar bathroom on a poker bet had been a bad idea.
Irritation still swept through her though when Roslin calmly answered. "It'll grow out."
Lee stopped in front of her and his eyes locked on Kara's, then suddenly he was closing the distance between them, his face looming inches away from hers. For a split second, insane as the thought was, she was positive he was going to kiss her. Lee's head dipped, tilted closer, lips just centimeters from hers now. She could feel his warm breath on her skin. Kara's lips parted as she inhaled sharply and he leaned closer, closer, and then—
He sniffed her.
A loud obnoxious nostril-flaring sniff.
Lee's nose wrinkled in disgust, as he turned back to Roslin. "God, she smells like a brewery."
Embarassed and furious suddenly (
it had only been two beers!
), Kara whirled to face the coach too. "Hey, who's checking out who here?" she scowled. "Listen, lady, if you're looking for some kind of Barbie to go with Stick-Up-his-Ass Ken here, I'm not your girl."
"Oh, you're a girl?" Lee snitted, eyes dismissively raking over her again. "Could've fooled me."
Kara's fingers flexed, itching to lay this jerk out, but she kept her voice mild and calm. "I'm not surprised. You probably don't meet too many of them with that sparkling personality."
That had him turning, his face taut and angry and so close she could see the individual hairs of stubble on his jawline. "I don't know how many slapshots you've taken to the brain, but let's get one thing perfectly clear. This was your audition. And let me assure you, it's over."
"Hey, Prince Charming, relax! I'm no figure skater, I'm a hockey player.
"Precisely. So what are you doing here?"
Kara glared but had no response. She was starting to wonder that herself.
He raised an eyebrow and turned to Roslin with an infuriatingly smug grin. "Get this…
out of my building." With that, Lee turned his back and skated away.
But the damage had already been done. His words turned Kara's vision red. She bounded after him and jumped, hands hooking his shoulders as she shoved a knee into the small of his back, and he fell to the ice. The momentum made the punch she'd already swung at his kidney fall softer than she'd intended, but he was quick. Lee reached back, twisting, and grabbed her wrists, rolling them over.
They were both panting and his body was heavy on hers, pressing her into the ice, and the next minute a rush of arousal was flooding her system. Suddenly all Kara could think about was the fact that it'd been months since she'd gotten laid. Not a girl, huh?, she thought and bucked her hips up, half to throw him off, half to just see how the ice prince here would react, but the guy just tightened his grip, face blank, cold gaze burning through her. Well, what'd she expect? He was probably gay anyway.
She shifted again, getting ready to knee him in the balls, when Roslin interjected. "THAT'S ENOUGH. Get up, right now!" They both froze at the tone and Lee released her wrists and shifted off her, getting to his feet. Kara followed, a bit more slowly.
"We are done grappling like children in a schoolyard," she frowned at them. "Pairs means two. Leland, you need a partner. You're skating nowhere fast." Prince Charming huffed with exasperation, as Roslin turned to her. "And you can't play hockey anymore. Those days are over. But you can skate. This could be your second chance. Unless you want to go back to building bungalows in Boston." She leveled a gaze at Kara. "I have no doubt that I'm the last person coming to look for you."
Her shoulders sank at Roslin's blunt words. Damn her for being right. She shifted her head slightly so she could sneak a glance at Lee. Was she really going to be able to deal with this insufferable prig long-term? He caught her looking, the slightly abashed expression he wore softening his face just the slightest bit. Kara took it as a sign of compromise, or at least knowing when they were beat. Under all those pleasant smiles, Roslin was a formidable woman.
She must have seen something in Kara's face that looked like agreement, because she lifted the skates that dangled from her hand and pushed them gently towards her chest. "Good. Now put these on, and let me see what I have to work with here."
She took them and headed to the bench, slipping the skates on. As she pulled the laces tight, double knotting them, Kara wondered again exactly what the hell she'd gotten herself into.
She was flying.
Or at least this must be what flying felt like, Kara imagined, as she circled the rink. The ice was far smoother than the pond at home, and she gained speed and momentum with every lap. The fancy surroundings and the two figures watching her faded away as Kara just reveled in the motion, feeling the push-pull in her thighs and calves, and hearing the quiet slice of metal on ice. Not many better sounds in this world.
She grinned as she completed her fifth lap and closed her eyes, twisting to skate the next circuit backwards. These skates were actually heavier than her hockey boots, and the thicker blade made Kara's strides stronger and faster. On impulse, she decided to throw in one of her favorite moves. Pushing harder, she picked up speed, then suddenly kicked up and over into a backflip. She landed a little heavy on both feet and her ankles wobbled in the unfamiliar skates but she held. Feeling triumphant, she skated back to Roslin and Lee and turned sideways automatically to slide to a stop, but the tip of her left foot caught on the ice and Kara pitched over, landing sprawled on the rink in an inelegant heap.
"Oof." Two shiny black skates glided into her field of vision and she looked up to find Lee smirking down at her.
"Nice trick. What do you do for an encore? Roll over and beg?"
Narrowing her eyes, Kara struggled to her feet on the spindly blades, then leaned in close enough that her nose was almost touching his. Let's see how he liked a little invasion of his personal space. "Why? You want to pet my tummy?" she asked mockingly, drawling out her vowels in an overly husky whisker, "Leland?"
Glowering, he slid back a step, crossing his arms over his chest, but Kara watched the tips of ears
Hmm, maybe not so gay, then.
Smirking, she turned away and looked down at the ice to see what she'd tripped on. It was smooth as a mirror. She checked her skate and noticed a small row of sharp teeth at the tip of the blade. "Hey! What's this claw
"It's calledthe toepick," Lee answered, derision dripping from every syllable even as he skated around in front of her and came to a showy abrupt stop by digging the little claw into the ice.
"Toepick?" Kara smirked. "Sounds like a personal hygiene problem to me."
He raised an eyebrow. "I'm sure hygiene's a foreign concept to you, but I wouldn't let it get in your way."
She grinned, cocking a brow right back at him. "Oh, I don't let anything get in
Their gazes locked again, but then Roslin, who was standing at the rail, called out, "Not bad. Now let's see you together." She nodded to Lee and he skated up behind her, reaching down and grasping her right hip without any preamble. Kara tensed, the warmth of his palm bleeding right through her jeans and jersey. For a cold guy, he sure gave off a lot of heat. He reached down and picked up her left hand with his, holding it out to the side. Little tingles shot up her arm again and she could feel his breath on the back of her neck.
"Kara, you'll lead," the coach instructed. "Just set an easy pace and Lee will match you. Begin."
She pushed off, instinctively bending forward into her usual skating position, and his fingers dug into her hip and pulled at her arm, wrenching her back towards him.
"Shoulders back, spine straight, head up," Roslin called.
She tried to skate in the unnatural position but it was uncomfortable. Kara felt restrained and awkward. Her tread was heavy when she pushed into the ice, nothing like the easy gliding she was doing before, and she kept thinking she was going to tangle her feet with Lee's. Instinctively she went faster, trying to put enough distance between them to avoid a collision. But his hand on her hip slid forward, fingers spreading against her stomach as he pulled her back towards him again, anchoring her in place. "Stop fighting me and slow down," he snapped. "It's not a race."
Kara forced herself to pull back a little, tried to concentrate on the instructions Roslin was shouting. It was intensely strange to be skating in such close proximity and synchronicity with another body. She closed her eyes and tried to focus on the rhythm of Lee's strides, matching her own to it.
"Better. Much Better."
Her eyes opened, gaze skipping over to Roslin as, suddenly, the wide door at the end of the rink slid open and a man stepped through. He was stocky, his face heavily lined and unsmiling. That and the fact that he surveyed the rink with an air of ownership told Kara this had to be Bill Adama, the king of the castle. "That your dad?"
A pause, then a swift, clipped answer. "Yes."
Kara raised an eyebrow. Okay, clearly there were some issues there. Her eyes went back to the man, who was discussing something with Roslin that seemed to clearly be making her upset. Her arms were crossed and they were both scowling. She threw up her hands and turned slightly away, but Adama reached out and laid a hand on her arm. Roslin turned back and their eyes locked. Even halfway across the rink, Kara could see that there was some serious fireworks between these two.
"So are they, like, an item?" There was silence in response and she turned her head to find Lee staring at her incredulously.
"Roslin and your dad? They together?"
"God, no." He made a face of distaste and she was intrigued by the strong reaction.
"What's a matter? She's kinda smoking, for an older lady." She watched the tip of his ear flush again and Kara laughed. "Wait. Don't tell me you're hot for teacher?"
His face twisted again. "She's old enough to be my mother! God, are you always this crude?"
"Nah," Kara shrugged cheerfully. "Sometimes I'm a lot worse."
"Great," Lee sighed. "Something to look forward to."
"So, speaking of moms, is the lady of the manor gonna show up too?"
There was no response, and she twisted her neck to see his face. It was closed up as tight as a clamshell, his lips in a grim line.
"What? I just wondered if this was a family affair and all, since your dad's here, obviously checking up on—"
"How come?" Kara asked, undeterred, her curiousity piqued by his brusqueness. "She's not a fan?"
Another long pause. "None of your goddamn business," Lee said, voice colder than the air in the rink, as he dropped his hands and broke away, skating on without her.
Kara glided absently on her own.
Well. So much for trying to have a normal conversation
. Distracted, she started to turn into a stop only to get caught and stumble, falling to the ice again. She winced as Lee's self-satisfied call floated down the length of the rink to her. "Tooooooepick!"
She heaved herself up again, and was about to take off down the ice after him when Roslin called to her, waving her over. Kara skated over to the edge of the rink where the coach and Bill Adama stood, studying her with inscrutable eyes. Carefully, she used the metal teeth to come to a stop.
"Bill would like to speak to you privately, Kara," Roslin said, her voice tight. Clearly she hadn't won whatever argument they'd been having. "Why don't you follow him to the main house?"
A sinking feeling settled in her gut. But Kara nodded and climbed out of the rink, pulling the skates off and slipping her sneakers back on, reliving the way it had felt back in high school when she was sent to the principal's office. Her gaze skipped to Roslin, but the woman wasn't looking her way. Her face was tight with frustration. Lee was halfway across the ice, skating figure eights and staring at the rink like he might burn a hole through it.
What a waste of good ice
, Kara thought as she stood and followed Bill Adama out of the building.