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She tapped lightly on the hatch, then swung it open and stepped into his office without waiting for a response. He was asleep at his desk again, drooling a little onto some stack of reports, unbuttoned jacket loose around his neck. She smiled and approached him, taking the opportunity to observe him in a way she usually didn’t allow.

He looked old, she thought with a pang of regret, his face marked with lines that didn’t ease even in slumber. She wondered how many of them she’d put there, one way or another. She wondered when they’d changed, when they’d become the people they used to mouth off to. She could see in him no trace of the boy she’d known, so bitter and so innocent and so certain about everything.

He didn’t get to just be Lee very often anymore, and she missed that, missed the way he laughed when there wasn’t anyone to notice whether he deported himself like an officer of the Colonial Fleet. She missed him in civvies, dogtags showing in the collar of an ugly shirt as he poured shots behind the bar at the Cock and Bull that first summer she’d known him, that one summer when the three of them had been golden.

++++
++++

She’d seen him for the first time at the spaceport, hanging back against the wall as Zak scanned the crowd streaming through the gate for his brother’s face. She’d chewed on the inside of her lower lip and wiped the palms of her hands on her military issue trousers and told herself to get the frak over it, because if she could turn recruits from a pack of young gorillas into a squadron of fighter pilots she could certainly cope with one slightly uptight older brother, even if someone had been stupid enough to give the man the call sign of a god. But if there was one thing Kara Thrace was worse at than relationships, it was family, and she was already having enough trouble surviving the former without throwing the latter into the mix on top of it.

But it was Zak’s brother’s last summer leave before his graduation from War College and subsequent posting on some plum battlestar, and he was apparently determined to squander it in a manner unrelated to all things military, and had incomprehensibly decided that the best place to do that was on Picon, practically within spitting distance of Fleet Headquarters, so he could spend lots and lots of time with his adoring younger brother. He was all Zak had talked about for weeks, and from the sound of him, he would probably take one look at her and demand to know what his brother was thinking. Kara knew perfectly well she wasn’t really girlfriend material, at least not for men like these, but that had never bothered her for a second, at least not until about an hour ago when Zak had announced she was driving him to the spaceport and it had finally sunken in that she was actually going to have to do it.

She heard Zak’s whoop of recognition over the white noise of the crowd and he waved her over towards a man who looked even less like Zak in person than he did in photographs, and she wished from the depths of her soul that she could be meeting him in a bar or a parade ground or a dogfight or a pyramid court or any of the thousand other places where she knew exactly who and what to be.

But Lee Adama was holding his hand out to her just outside gate 27 of a Picon spaceport, and she plastered a grin on her face and shook it. She met his eyes (bluer than she’d expected) and for a second they were cold and maybe even disapproving, but then with a blink that might have stood for a mental shrug they warmed as his smile finally reached them, like he had just decided that she could be one of them after all, and she thought she must be cracking under the stress if she thought she could actually see all that in the shadows of some guy’s stare.

Then Zak draped his arm around her shoulders and Lee dropped her hand and they all started talking at once, smiling like idiots and there wasn’t enough time or air for all the things they wanted to ask each other, and by the time they remembered to go down to the baggage claim twenty minutes later Kara had learned four new stories about Zak and Lee knew about three of the records she still held from flight school and Zak had planned out all of their activities for the next week. When they finally got outside, Lee whistled appreciatively when introduced to her humvee, and Kara thought for the first time since she was eight years old that maybe families weren’t a source of unmitigated evil, after all.

++++

Lee was exactly what Zak had described and yet nothing like Kara had imagined him – knowing Lee, she understood for the first time what Zak saw in her, because she could see it plain as day in the other man’s face – love of flying, love of Zak, love of anything that could slam you back in your seat with a force you could almost but not quite control. And yet for all those unexpected similarities, it was their differences that made him interesting, the times when he thought while she acted, when she quoted scripture and he philosophy, when they would literally scream at each other about nothing, about whether beer or ambrosia was the appropriate beverage for watching a pyramid game.

It seemed, in retrospect, like they did nothing but talk for the first month, one long three-sided conversation about Vipers and politics and the morons on talk wireless, about favorite restaurants and other pilots and where you could get acceptable coffee for under a cubit. The pretense of a previous friendship with Lee provided Kara with the perfect cover for spending time with Zak in public, and the three of them laughed whole afternoons away in parks and shopping malls and pyramid courts, doing nothing but doing it so well it felt like everything, like the most important thing in the world. They ate watermelon on picnic blankets and Zak dropped seeds down Kara’s shirt, they bought water guns and Kara shot Lee in the chest from three yards away and chortled as he dropped to his knees in mock-death. On the hottest days they snuck flasks into air-conditioned movie theaters and played drinking games in the back row until their snickering got loud enough to interrupt the dialogue and the lady in front of them asked them to shut up or move.

++++

Lee sublet an apartment half a mile from Kara’s for three times the rent and found work as a bartender near the flight school four nights a week, and he took to the job with a gleeful zeal she would never have believed had she not seen it first hand. She and Zak spent most of their evenings there, playing darts and demanding the most complex drinks they could think of from Lee and tipping him abominably, chatting with the friends who came and went like comets briefly streaking through their solar system of three, though Kara could never figure out exactly who was orbiting whom.

It was at the bar that they began the game of what-if, what if you weren’t a pilot, what if you won the lottery, what if you had to choose one of the following incurable diseases, what if you were stranded on an uninhabited moon, what if you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what if you had to lose one of your senses.

“What if you had been in flight school with me?” she asked Lee towards the end of one particular night, tracing the rim of her glass with a finger. Zak was in the dorms, studying for a test, and the Cock and Bull was near empty and near closing.

Lee laughed out loud and leaned towards her, putting down the sponge he’d been using to mop up a spilled drink. “Let’s see, we would have met the first day, me in my starched uniform and bright shiny boots, probably wound so tight I would have walked right into you in the hall.”

She grinned up at him. “I would have hated you on sight. You’d keep raising your hand in class cause you’d already read the first three books we were gonna cover, and then I’d trip you on our way out of the room, and laugh when your papers went flying everywhere.”

“So basically you’re telling me you were a bitch at eighteen.”

She winked. “Still am.”

He rolled his eyes heavenward and threw his sponge at her. “But then one fine day we would have been pitted against each other in the sims –”

“And I would have kicked your ass –”

“But just barely, and you would have been charmed by the devastatingly handsome stranger who’d taken out your port thruster –”

“Through nothing but sheer luck and arrogance –”

“And from that day on, we would have been friends.”

She laughed. “We would have owned the place.”

“We’d have kicked everyone else in our year from here to Sagittaron.”

“We’d have come up with the best pranks. We’d have disassembled Colonel Bader’s car and rebuilt it on the roof of the gym. I always wanted to do that.”

He raised an eyebrow. “You know how to disassemble cars?”

She shrugged. “Worked at a mechanic’s in high school. Which you should know, Cadet Adama, since I keep having to fix the alternator on that bucket of rust you drive around.”

“Well, Cadet Thrace, you gotta do something to pay me back for all the times I bail your ass out of hack.”

++++

The joke never seemed to wear thin, not at the end of the night or the end of the week or even the next – the imaginary hijinks of Cadets Adama and Thrace grew more outrageous and elaborate by the day. Their second term they were roommates. They plowed through imaginary classmates in the sims and got in more bar fights than any ten actual cadets and bluffed their way to implausible wins at triad. They made up new stunts to try out on each other in the air. The one thing they didn’t do was share.

“Morning, Cadet Thrace,” Zak said to her exactly once, at the beginning of the joke’s second week in action, after closing the door to her office behind him.

She looked up from a stack of exams. “That’s Cadet God to you, nugget,” she told him.

His mouth twisted. “Well, Cadet God, Sir, the other Cadet Adama would like to know if you’re at liberty to meet him for lunch today. I’ve got a Lions of Hermes meeting about the charity auction.”

“After school activities. You’re so cute.” She blew him a kiss. “Tell him Gordon’s at thirteen hundred.”

At lunch they decided that Cadets Adama and Thrace would run for student government on the platform that, if elected, they would take over the universe.

After that, after she’d stolen the last of his fries and they were waiting for their check, the quiet of the afternoon broke abruptly at the sonic boom of three Vipers flying in formation. Lee squinted up into the sky over the restaurant patio, and after the planes disappeared he let out a long breath, shoulders slumping. “Frak I miss it,” he told her, and turned on his best smile. “Think you could get me up there?”

An enigmatic light bloomed across her face. “Nope. But I can get us into the sims any time there’s not a class on.”

He dropped a few bills on the table and pushed back his chair. “So what the frak are we waiting for?”

Flying against Apollo was as good as she’d imagined, like they’d rehearsed it, like a new kind of dance, and they did it three times in a row before coming up for air. She beat him twice; he got her the second time with an under-and-around move so slick she wished she’d thought of it. On their break, they got as far as the drinking fountain before daring each other back.

“Best of five, loser buys dinner.”

“Loser cooks dinner.”

“Closest I come to cooking is reheating pizza.”

“Then I guess you’ll have some extra incentive to kick my ass.”

“Like I need it. I could blow you out of the sky with one arm tied behind my back.”

“You’re dreaming it.”

They were up to best of fifteen when Zak tracked them down, and Kara spilled out of her machine sweaty and laughing and kissed him for three straight minutes against an alley wall as soon as they got out of sight of the campus. She made him massage the cramps out of her hands while Lee cooked them dinner that night, then took him back to her apartment and frakked him in the shower, slow and sweet and so in love that the words caught in her throat when she tried to tell him.

Kara fell asleep tangled up with Zak, thinking that it had been maybe the best day of her life ever, replacing the previous best which had been (though she told no one this) her first day as a cadet, when she put on her uniform and looked in the mirror and saw someone real looking back at her, someone who counted.

++++

The next morning, Kara’s CO took her aside and informed her that she was not allowed to use school resources for her personal recreation - for more than an hour a day, say between fifteen and sixteen hundred, when a faculty member or two might bring some students by for a demonstration of advanced flight tactics.

So it was a thing, after that, Starbuck and Apollo showing off by blowing each other up every afternoon, and Zak reported that a cottage industry of bets on their daily scores had sprung up among the students. They only fixed the game once, for his birthday, and made him buy them dinner after. Eventually the one-on-ones got old so they joined forces and took on squad after squad of cylon Raiders, racking up kills in a never ending contest between Cadet Adama and Cadet Thrace, who got to exist for one hour a day over a closed comm channel.

++++

The heat grew thicker by the day, the green of the parks darkened towards brown and the summer term came to an end. Zak went out to celebrate while Kara wrote up student evaluations and when Lee finally dragged him back he almost threw up on her work.

They had two weeks of leave before classes started again, so Lee quit his job and the three of them rented a cabin up in the mountains, on the shore of Lake Andromeda, where the pine forests sloped down almost to the water and yellow wildflowers grew in complex constellations along the mossy backs of fallen tree trunks. They rumbled out of the city in Kara’s humvee, music thumping, spitting cherry pits out the open windows, and stopped in a foothill town to stock up on beer and instant noodles and fishing tackle.

The cabin was a glorified trailer with paper-thin walls and ugly brown and purple wallpaper, but there was a grill outside and the deck looked right over the lake and Zak woke them early every morning to go fishing before the heat set in. In the afternoons they swam, splashing and dunking each other like ten year olds, and on the second day Zak spun her dizzy and then kissed his way down her neck so she wouldn’t notice when he stripped off her bikini top. She tried to grab it back but he threw it to shore, so she gave him a you-asked-for-it glare and waded out to retrieve it. Lee surfaced at the exact moment that she stepped out of the lake and promptly swallowed about a pint of water. Kara laughed so hard she forgot to pick up her top, which made Lee choke more, which made Zak pound his back significantly harder than was strictly necessary.

When the sun went down they showered off the smell of the lake and Zak and Kara made love while Lee grilled their fish, and they spent their evenings drinking around fires they built in a stone circle by the shore.

++++

At the beginning of their second week, the skies opened and they spent the afternoon playing triad on the floor of the living room and listening to the thunder and the incessant drumming of raindrops on the roof. They cracked open a bottle of ambrosia before dinner and another one afterwards, turning off the lights so the lightning out the window would make a better show. Zak fell asleep sprawled out on the couch and Lee and Kara sat shoulder to shoulder on the floor beneath it, watching fingers of water stream down the glass and talking about nothing.

“So, Cadet Adama, you know where you’re going after graduation yet?” she asked after a stretch of companionable silence.

He shrugged. “Someone said something about the Solaria maybe, but nothing firm. You?”

“Nothing that fancy. Maybe a base on one of the outer moons, somewhere I can’t get in that much trouble.”

He nudged her shoulder. “Nah, you belong in the middle of the action. You know, I’m gonna be the youngest CAG in the fleet, and then I’ll have you transferred to my squad.”

She snorted. “You couldn’t handle me. And I’d burst out laughing every time I had to call you sir.”

“I think it would build your character. Teach you some frakking respect.”

“Yeah, well I happen to know you’re a lot less respectable than you like to let on. Speaking of which, where we gonna go after the ceremony? Cause I’m not gonna sleep until I see the great CAG-to-be Lee Adama passed out in a pool of his own vomit.”

“I don’t know if I can make it. Supposedly my dad’s going to show up, so there might be a family thing.”

“Ooh, the great Commander descends to tread our mortal ground. Am I going to meet him?”

“Sure, why the frak not. I’ll even buy you a bottle of nectar if you manage to spill something on him at the reception.”

“Yeah, cause he’s not a man who could crush my entire career or anything.”

He elbowed her. “So what about you? Am I going to meet Mr. and Mrs. Thrace?”

“Nope.”

“Why not? I’m not that embarrassing.”

“They won’t be there,” Cadet Thrace answered, staring into the darkness on the far side of the window. This was when she shut up. This was when she dared him to do something stupid to change the subject. “Dad left when I was eight. Haven’t seen my mom since I was fifteen.”

A pause and then, in a different voice, he asked, “Why not?”

She laughed humorlessly. Moonlight in her mother’s bedroom and a prayer to Athena stuck in her throat as she shook her mother awake, holding the blade of the kitchen knife to her neck with her other hand. “I’m not yours anymore, Mama. I’m not afraid to hurt you,” she said, and pulled the knife along her mother’s shoulder, just the way she’d practiced on herself, the line of blood black in the thin light. “Cause I told her I’d kill her if she came after me.” “You’ll wake up by the River Styx, and I won’t be leaving any coins for your passage, you got it?”

His fingers laced through hers, squeezed her hand too tightly. “Why?”

“You think you’re brave, little Kary?” her mother demanded. “I made you. And all you are, all you’re ever gonna be, is nothing.” “I was nine when she broke one of my fingers the first time.” She wiggled her left pinky against his hand. “I had… spilled some paint on the carpet, working on a school project. By the time she ran through all ten, I was fifteen. I came home from a date twenty minutes after curfew. The day the splint came off, I was out of there. Before she could move on to something bigger.” Kara tilted her head and smiled. “Yeah? Well that still makes me a damn sight more than you,” she said, and walked away before the sweat on her palm could slip the knife from her grip.

He swallowed, and his hand tightened even further around hers, then relaxed. “Where’d you go?”

“Crashed with this pyramid buddy. He was older, had his own place.” Three years on a used mattress on the floor, the perpetual smell of dirty laundry, giving Joe handjobs out of guilt when the money from the garage didn’t stretch far enough for food and rent.

“Boyfriend?”

“Not really.”

He offered her the bottle of ambrosia with his free hand and she took it, tilted her head back and let green numbness flow down her throat. He rubbed the back of her hand with his thumb. “Well, you’re an honorary Adama now. So if you ever need anything… we got your back.”

She gave him a brittle smile. “That’s very honorifying, Cadet Adama.”

“Kara… I’m not playing.”

She shrugged and took another drink. “Yeah.”

Behind them, Zak rolled over and snored loudly. She glanced back at him. “Look… don’t say anything, ok?”

Lee frowned at her. “He doesn’t know?”

She shrugged. “I don’t talk about it.” She grinned and shook their mostly empty bottle at him. “You just happened to get me very, very drunk.”

“You gonna tell him?”

“I don’t want his pity.”

“I don’t pity you.”

“Yeah.” She rolled her head, the alcohol hitting her all of a sudden, and somehow it ended up resting on his shoulder. “You’re not him.”

A too-long pause. “I know.”

They stopped talking then. They sat on the floor in the darkness and slouched into each other, and at some point one of them grabbed the throw blanket off the arm of the couch and spread it over them, and at some point they slid down until they were more lying than sitting, and at some point they fell asleep.

++++

When Kara woke up it was still hours before dawn, but moonlight slanted through the window and she thought maybe it was the quiet that had roused her, the absence of rain. She stirred slightly and there was rough carpet beneath her legs and a man’s arm around her, a man’s chest pressed against her back and the room seemed to revolve slowly with the ambrosia still coursing through her veins, and the arm tightened around her and she ran one foot up the leg spooned behind hers, and a face nuzzled into her neck and pressed a kiss behind her ear and then another, slightly lower, and she arched back into him as heat coiled in her lower belly, quick and unmistakable, and the hand that had been resting on her stomach worked its way under her shirt and her breath caught and –

A switch flipped on somewhere in her brain and she froze, suddenly aware of where she was and whose teeth were scraping lightly against the base of her neck and it was less than a second, less than half a second that she considered just closing her eyes and letting it happen because she was drunk and half asleep and obviously had no idea what she was doing, and then she rolled away from Lee, and her movement woke him the rest of the way up, too.

They both sat up, and glanced at Zak, still unconscious and close enough to touch, and then turned towards each other. He looked the way she thought she must, all horror and denial and guilt and that other thing they weren’t supposed to feel.

She stood up unsteadily and whispered, “I’m going to bed,” and he nodded dumbly, and she walked away from the Adama brothers, one oblivious, one watching her with a gaze heavy enough to bow her shoulders.

She retreated to the bathroom and splashed her face with cold water, rinsed the fuzz from her mouth. She sat on the toilet and squeezed her head with both hands and thought he’s like my brother over and over until it turned into don’t frak this up, despite the gut-twisting feeling that she already had.

++++

The next morning, Zak didn’t get them up early to go fishing. Kara woke up alone in their lumpy bed with a headache and a dry throat, and stumbled to the kitchen to find Zak and Lee leaning against the counter, nursing matching mugs of coffee. She kissed Zak and picked up a dirty mug from the counter and rinsed it in the sink before turning to the coffee pot, and she didn’t want to think does he know? because there was nothing to know, because nothing had happened, nothing at all because she’d been drunk and asleep and she’d thought it was Zak, obviously, it was an innocent mistake and then they’d woken up and that had been the end of it.

“Sleep well?” Zak asked.

She shrugged. “I missed you.”

“Well, it won’t happen again. That couch has taught my back its lesson.”

“Aww, do I need to rub it and make it better?”

He bumped his hip into hers and she grabbed the bag of chips from the shelf and everything was really completely fine until she glanced at Lee and he looked away. She wondered if they were supposed to talk about it. Of course not. Because there’s nothing to talk about. Because nothing happened.

++++

Restless, she suggested that they take a hike, so after breakfast they laced on their boots and set out along the lakeshore. They stopped for lunch at the top of a black rock cliff that plunged straight into the water. “Let’s jump,” she said after they’d finished their sandwiches.

“You’re crazy,” Zak told her, ruffling her hair. “It could be shallow here. There could be rocks under the water.”

She grinned and set to work unlacing her boots. “Only one way to find out.”

“If you break your neck, I am not hauling your ass all the way to a hospital,” he warned her.

“All I ask is a proper burial,” she said. “Say a nice prayer for me.” She stripped down to her swimsuit and took a running dive off the cliff and time stretched out as she fell, panic and exhilaration and wildness coiling in her limbs and then the cold shock of water and just as her momentum ran out her hands brushed against rock. She kicked out, away from shore, holding her breath to give the boys a scare and she opened her eyes but there was nothing to see except brown-tinged emptiness and her lungs burned but she kicked stubbornly deeper until the water surged against her at the splash of a second dive. She surfaced, breathless and laughing and looking for Zak but it was Lee whose head broke through the water, relief and anger warring in his eyes.

“Gotcha,” she told him, grinning.

“That wasn’t funny,” he told her, smiling back. “Bitch.”

Their eyes met and she thought it was utterly unfair that even though nothing had happened, everything had changed.

“You morons alive down there?” Zak called from the top of the cliff.

“Come find out,” she shouted.

“Nah, I’m good up here. Think I’ll just take it easy, eat all the chocolate.”

“Touch my chocolate and die, nugget,” she called back.

“Chill out, you’re on vacation,” he shouted with a laugh.

She glanced at Lee. “So… Any idea how we get back up there?”

They had to swim down a ways before the cliffs gave way to a gentler bank, and they made the hike back upwards in an uneasy silence. Finally, it got to be too much for her. “Do we have to talk about?” she demanded of Lee’s back.

He glanced back at her. “Talk about what?” he asked evenly.

“Exactly. There’s nothing to talk about.”

“Yep.”

“Good.”

“Right.”

They walked in silence for a couple of minutes. “Race you,” she said, pushing around him and taking off down the path. His footsteps pounded behind her, and as long as they kept running, everything was ok.

+++++

The last few days of their vacation lurched by, and Kara felt stilted, self-conscious in a way she’d never been with Zak, never been with anyone. On the surface everything was fine, but she was trapped outside of herself, watching her every gesture to see what it meant, to ensure the appearance of an innocence the very necessity of which proved its lack. She couldn’t shake the sensation of acting a part, not in bed with Zak or splashing in the lake or even halfway into a bottle of ambrosia, throwing twigs into the fire.

She and Lee had retrenched themselves firmly in the roles of Cadet Adama and Cadet Thrace, who had never blurred the lines between them in the dark, and addressed one another as nothing else.

“Bait please, Cadet Thrace,” Lee requested on the morning before their departure, as they fished from the end of their little dock.

“Would you both just frakking quit it,” Zak demanded.

“Quit what?” Lee asked.

“This frakking make believe, Cadet Adama, Cadet Thrace, king and queen of frakking fantasyland.”

“It’s just a joke, Zak,” Kara said. “Calm down.”

He shook his head. “I’m not stupid, you know. I know what this is. You two have invented this perfect frakking world for yourselves, this perfect frakking life where it’s just you and him cause I don’t frakking exist! Cause you’ve been making up these bullshit stories all summer, and you know what, Cadet Adama’s little brother never comes to visit, does he? You don’t want him to.”

“That’s not true, Zak,” Lee told him. “It’s not like that.”

“Don’t frakking patronize me,” he said. He dropped his fishing rod and walked back towards the house.

Lee and Kara exchanged a look. “Let me,” she said. He nodded curtly and took the pole from her hands.

She caught up with Zak just outside the front door. “Can we talk about this?” she asked.

He shrugged.

She ran a hand through her hair “I’m sorry, ok? The stupid thing went too far. We’re both assholes. But we also love you. I love you. More than anything.”

“Are you really sure about that?” he asked seriously, searching her face.

She tried to smile. “Of course I am. From now on, you’re the only Cadet Adama I know.”

He kissed her quickly. “Then I forgive you.”

She nudged his side. “Let’s go catch some fish.”

++++

They spent a subdued evening in the cabin, Lee reading a battered novel and Zak and Kara feeding each other potato chips and whispering on the couch.

The next morning they headed back down to the city early, music turned up even louder than before to preclude any chance of conversation.

Three days later they returned Lee to the spaceport. They said their farewells at the curb, and Kara gave him an awkward hug and retreated into her car. Zak gave him a longer embrace and handed off his duffel bag, and Lee flashed them a last tense smile and turned away.

Kara had imagined his absence would be a relief, but he left a weight behind him, an afterimage that rode in the backseat of the humvee for weeks during which the whole city seemed quieter, no matter how much noise she made.

The new term started, and she saw Zak less, and strangely enough missing him during the evenings when their schedules didn’t match up was what made her believe that they would be ok. She stopped watching herself when she kissed him. She stopped making herself be nice.

++++

Lee had been gone for a month the day she stayed late after her last class to run through a new sim scenario with Froggy. It was a vicious setup, one-on-one in an asteroid belt where you had to play chess and chicken at the same time. It was three minutes of pure adrenaline, of sweating and swearing and nearly chewing through her lip, and when she finally flipped out from behind that last chunk of rock and Froggy flew straight into her missile, laughter bubbled out of her and she heard Lee’s voice so clearly in her ear – “Nice one, Cadet Thrace” – that she blinked and promptly crashed into an asteroid. It occurred to her, as she climbed out of the machine, that she might never be fully rid of him. Stubborn bastard. She smiled.

++++
++++

Kara thought she should wake him up before he did any serious damage to his reports, though the gods knew he probably needed the rest. And once he opened his eyes, the lines in his forehead would just get deeper, and he’d struggle to find a joke for her to prove he was coping with everything.

She wanted to give him something, something better than the pile of flight rosters in her hands that had brought her to his door in the first place. She wanted to rub the cares off of his face. He frakking deserved something good, something stupid and frivolous and fun, if only for an hour.

A grin spread across her face. The Pegasus has sims. It was a fact she was well acquainted with, but the actual implications of it hadn’t hit her until that moment.

She kicked the side of his desk once, hard, and watched as he jerked up in his chair and blinked at her, wiping at the side of his mouth.

“Kara?”

She smiled brightly. “Special delivery!” She dropped the rosters in front of him and lowered herself into the chair opposite him. He glanced down at the paperwork and then up again at her, eyes narrowing warily as she leaned towards him across the desk.

“Anything I can do for you?” he asked.

One corner of her mouth twisted up further and she looked him straight in the eye, willing him to follow her. “Well, Cadet Adama, it occurred to me that flight classes are over for the day, and I thought I might kick your ass for old time’s sake.”

For a second he stared at her with blank disbelief. Then he smirked wickedly. “Why Cadet Thrace, I’d be happy to help out with your ego reduction program. I could probably shoot you down… two, maybe three times before bed tonight.”

“Would that be out of seven rounds, or ten?”

He laughed out loud, then, and it sounded exactly like Lee.