Word count: 3,439
Characters/Pairings: Kara Thrace/Sam Anders, Bill Adama, Karl Agathon
Spoilers: the missing year and Unfinished Business (including deleted scenes)
Original story: Wings (or at least that’s what she’s calling it after the fact :P)
Original author: frolicndetour
Author’s notes: Written for the bsg_hiatusthon remix challenge. I loved Allie’s fic about the wedding tattoos, but she had some intriguing mentions of other events to add flavor to her fic. I wanted to know more about those snippets, and so, poof! Here be fic. Thank you so much, lyssie and lizardbeth_j for the beta. :D
Kara quickly makes her way from the senior officers’ quarters to those of Admiral Adama, mostly ignoring the people she passes. There aren’t many – the largest part of the crew is still down on New Caprica, sleeping off the previous day’s celebrations. Or continuing ‘em, she thinks, grinning, as she recalls the round of parties still going strong dirtside. She and Sam left those parties an hour or so ago and Sam is now passed out in her rack.
The pounding in her head reminds her that she’s had as much to drink as Sam. A part of her wishes she had even more, that she downed enough alcohol to put her in a stupor, rather than just enough to propel her into doing things she wishes now that she hadn’t done. That plot of land… Dammit, why did I take him there? That’s where Sam and I are planning our new home. Stupid, stupid, stupid.
Shaking her head to silence her own inner voice, she forges ahead. There are things she has to do, for Sam, for herself, maybe even for Lee. But as she draws nearer to her destination, her steps become slower and slower until, when she turns a corner and sees the partially open hatch of the Old Man’s quarters at the end of the corridor, she finally stops.
“Sam, wake up.” Kara kicked at his foot, but all he did was move it away and grumble something incoherent into the dirt. “Sam,” she said a little louder and kicked harder, but with no better result. She heard Tigh laugh behind her and turned to glare over her shoulder at him. Ellen lay with her head in his lap, sleeping it off as stubbornly as Sam. Unfazed by Kara’s sour look, Tigh raised a mostly empty bottle of ambrosia in a mocking salute, still snickering.
Dismissing him, Kara dropped down to one knee, her head spinning at the too-quick movement. “Sam,” she hissed and shook his shoulder, her fingers digging hard into muscle and skin.
“What?” came his surprisingly clear response, his tone irritated.
“Wake the frak up.” Gotta decide, gotta jump one way or the other. Those may not have been Tigh’s exact words – she was frakked up enough herself, still, to not remember every little nuance of the conversation, but that was the gist of it. And he was right. She had to make a frakking decision. Have to stop screwing around, have to grow the frak up.
“Why?” Sam said, still face down in the dirt.
For a moment, she nearly panicked. Had she said that out loud? But then she realized that he was asking why he should wake up. Relieved, she leaned down closer and whispered into his ear, “Get up or I dump your sorry ass forever, right here, right now.”
“Gods, are you always such a bitch in the morning?” And with that he rolled over, a slightly mushy grin on his face.
It was the same question he’d asked her that first morning with the Resistance in the old Delphi High School and her response then seemed just as appropriate now. “Count on it.” It hadn’t been the best day she ever had on Caprica, not by a long shot, but it had started out pretty damn well…
She watched as he shook his head like a dog and drew his legs up under him so that he was half-sitting, half-kneeling, then scrubbed his hands over his face and head, leaving his hair sticking up all over. Looking at him, remembering everything – everything – that had happened the night before, she relaxed. She was doing the right thing.
“All right, Kara.” He shifted so that he sat cross-legged on the ground facing her, squinting against the sun at her back. It was just high enough in the sky that she felt the faintest heat from its touch on her shoulders. “I’m awake. Now what’s so urgent?”
On her knees in front of him, she grinned. “Let’s get married.” A wildness coursed through her as she said the words.
He blinked. And then he blinked again. “Did you say…?”
Her grin widened. “Let’s get married,” she repeated and rocked to her feet, holding out a hand to help him up.
“Are you serious?” His stunned expression slowly transformed into a grin of his own. Gods, he was so frakking beautiful when he smiled.
“We’ll grab a priest and do it down by the river.” When he made no move to get up, she grasped his hand and pulled. Sam, apparently expecting the move, pulled back, brought Kara again to her knees, face to face with him. But rather than protest the manhandling, she kissed him. Looking into his eyes, which were already turning a darker shade of blue – so very different from another pair of blue eyes that never quite saw her straight on, as Sam’s always did – she kissed him again, harder, more insistent, and Sam responded in kind.
He tore his mouth from hers for just a moment. “Right now?” His voice was breathless.
She nodded, eyes wide. “Right frakking now.” Gods, if he says no, if he protests or even hesitates…
One more kiss and he smiled against her mouth, stood, and pulled her to her feet. He refused to release her hand when she made a move to pull it from his, squeezing it harder instead and moving to trap her arm beneath his. “Let’s go.”
And now here she is, about to confront the Old Man in his private quarters and ask to be released from her obligations to the military and to the fleet at large. “Gods, what the frak am I doing?” she whispers to no one. Galactica isn’t much, as far as homes go, but it’s all she’s ever really had. That crappy apartment in Delphi sure as hell didn’t count, nor did any of the equally crappy little places she’d lived with her mother.
She pulls a deep breath into her lungs and holds it for a moment, tries to clear her head. Yes, Galactica has been her only real home, up until now, but she’s going to make a new home, a new life, on New Caprica. With Sam. Her new husband.
Damn, she thinks and gives herself a mental kick in the ass, when I go all in, I go all in. Straightening her shoulders, she takes the dozen steps that bring her to that looming hatch, on the other side of which is unknown territory.
Stopping at the threshold, Kara raps her knuckles on the metal hatch combing and calls, “Admiral? You in there?”
“Starbuck, come in,” comes his somewhat muffled reply.
She pulls the hatch fully open and steps over the combing into Adama’s quarters, mildly surprised at the creakiness of the hinges; she can’t remember ever hearing so much as a squeak before now. Just as she can’t remember ever seeing a light out in one of the Admiral’s display cases, but as she passes them in her approach to the Old Man’s desk, there is an odd play of shadows over his miniature ships, emphasizing the reduced lighting.
Adama looks up from a thick, leather-bound log book and lays down his pen, smiling at her. “Congratulations again, Kara.” He stands and gestures for her to sit. “Where is your husband?”
“Asleep,” she says, grinning widely. “I probably should’ve warned him against matching drinks with Colonel Tigh.” She sits across from Adama in the closer of two leather chairs and watches as he walks over to a sideboard – not metal, but wood, darkened with age – and pours a finger’s depth of liquor into each of two glasses. He turns, the ghost of a smile still playing across his lips, still crinkling the corners of his eyes. He’s more relaxed, to her eyes, than he’s been in years – something else new and unusual to attribute to settling on New Caprica, she supposes – and she grins back at him as she accepts the offered glass.
“Ah, yes. There are very few who can go head to head with Saul Tigh.” He sits in the chair beside her rather than returning to his own, which would put the expanse of the desk between them. Taking a sip of his drink, he leans forward, toward Kara. “What brings you here, Captain?”
Although she feels a little nervous, she squashes the feeling. “About your offer…” she begins, and Adama looks at her expectantly. She opens her mouth to tell him that she wants to take him up on his offer to let her muster out, move to the surface with Sam, but suddenly, in the face of yet another pair of blue eyes that seem to nail her to her chair, the ability to form those blunt words fails her.
Instead, she takes a drink, only to discover that the Old Man has poured from his private – and dwindling – stash of Caprica’s finest whiskey. Her gaze flies to his, surprised, and he nods.
“It’s a happy occasion and you deserve it, Kara.” The affection for her evident in his voice, his face, causes a lump to form in her throat and she has to take another swallow to wash it away.
A barrier breaks down inside her and just as suddenly as words failed her before, they seem to just pour out of her now. “Admiral, I’ve thought about what you said this morning, and I want to muster out. Sam and I… There’s a piece of land on New Caprica and we’ve talked about building a cabin there, and Sam…. Well, he’s not military.” The admiral snorts at that and Kara laughs at herself and says, “Yeah. I guess I’m not all that military myself, huh?”
She starts to say something else, to offer more reasons – better reasons, even though the Old Man was the one who planted the idea in her head to begin with – for her to leave the Fleet, but Adama raises a hand, stopping the flow of words. When she falls silent, watching him warily, he drops his gaze to the glass in his hand, swirling the amber liquid around and around.
After a brief time, he looks up at her again and Kara realizes that she was holding her breath, half expecting him to rescind his offer.
“If that’s what you want, then I’ll issue the orders.” He raises his glass to his lips and downs its contents, then sets it on his desk with finality. “I don’t have to tell you that I wish you’d stay.”
She chews at her lower lip and chooses her words carefully. “It’s better this way, sir. A new life, a new start.” Quirking a wry smile at him, she shrugs. “Maybe I won’t frak this new life up quite as much as I did the old.” As she says the words, the heavy weight of every mistake she’s ever made, every fight she’s ever started just so she could feel like she was really there, like people really saw her, seems to fall away. Sam Anders – her husband – sees things in her that no one else does, and she kinda likes that.
Adama smiles at her again. “I don’t think you’ve done too badly with your life, Starbuck.”
Kara shakes her head, her eyes beginning to burn. “No. Not Starbuck anymore. Just Kara.”
The Old Man stands and holds out his hand to her. She takes it, standing herself. “You’ll never be ‘just Kara,’” he says, his warm hand engulfing hers. But then he lets her hand go. “Now get out of here before I change my mind.”
As she steps through the hatch, Dualla’s voice issues a ship-wide page for Helo to report to Admiral Adama’s quarters ASAP.
It’s at least an hour after leaving the Old Man that Kara finally returns to Sam. The hatch to her quarters hangs open and she hears laughter and music and more voices than Sam alone could account for. Before she can think twice about it, though, another voice calls to her from the other end of the corridor.
“Kara!” She swings around at the sound of Helo’s voice, nearly overbalancing herself under the weight of the duffel that hangs from her right shoulder, full of Sam’s things. After leaving the Admiral, she went to pick up Sam’s stuff, expecting very little, but Jean gave her wedding gifts, scrounged from among his teammates. The weightier bits clink together as she slings the duffel to the deck and waits for Karl to catch up to her. He has a bottle in his hand and a huge grin on his face.
Kara cocks her head at him and rests her hands on her hips, offering him a lopsided smile of her own. “You’re in a good mood,” she observes, something that hasn’t been the case for a long time.
He hands her the bottle. “It’s not every day my best friend gets married.” To emphasize the last word, he lightly bumps his shoulder into hers.
The label on the green bottle is a little faded, a little worn around the edges, and some of the gold lettering has flaked away, but it’s still legible. Yohimbe Gold, Virgon’s finest ambrosia. First Adama and now Agathon… She looks up at Karl, questioning.
“Sam’s man Hillard had it squirreled away. I won it off him at Triad a couple nights ago and I can’t think of a finer occasion to celebrate with it.”
She allows a blatantly skeptical expression to take over her face. “You? Won at Triad?”
“Hey! Even a busted clock comes through twice a day.” He is all wounded dignity, save for the light dancing in his green eyes.
A burst of particularly loud laughter drifts to them from the open hatch, followed by chanting. “Kat. Kat. Kat.”
“C’mon,” Karl says as he picks up the duffel Kara abandoned. “We have a party to go to.” He takes her by the elbow and drags her along behind him, toward the hatch.
A couple of hours later, feeling mellow, Kara and Helo lean back against somebody’s rack – she thinks it’s probably Hotdog’s, but doesn’t care enough to make sure – legs sticking out straight in front of them, daring anyone to stumble over them. Which is a little stupid, Kara admits to herself, given the amount of homemade alcohol that has been consumed in this wedding celebration Karl had arranged.
She rolls her head along the edge of the bunk until her cheek comes to rest against the scratchy blanket. Blinking once, hard, she focuses on her friend. “I can’t frakkin’ believe the Old Man is making you CAG.”
Helo looks over at her, swiveling his head to do so until they’re nearly nose-to-nose, and gives her a sloppy grin. “Tell you the truth, I can’t, either.”
“And he doesn’t even want me to hang around to ease you into it,” she marvels.
He makes a face at her, then shifts his head again to look solemnly at the nearly empty bottle dangling from the hand that rests on his left knee. With some effort, he brings the bottle to his lips and raises it enough for a swallow before wiping it off with his sleeve and offering it to Kara. She rolls her eyes at him, but takes the bottle, all the same. Frowning, he observes, “I can’t remember what I was gonna say.”
His plaintive statement strikes Kara as the funniest thing she’s ever heard – which is ridiculous, but she’s drunk, so what can she do but run with it? Her shout of laughter draws attention, particularly from Sam, who looks over his shoulder at them. Seeing that she’s with Helo, he visibly relaxes and Kara dissolves into helpless giggles, collapsing against Karl’s shoulder. It’s a good thing we’re both already on the deck, she thinks as he shoves her off his chest, laughing like a loon himself.
“Gods, Kara. It’s your wedding night.” Still giggling, she extends one finger toward his face, waggling it around his eyes and nose, just to piss him off. “What the fr—” He grabs her finger and holds on as he slides back up into a sitting position, again leaning back against Hotdog’s rack. “Frak are you doing spending it with me?”
She doesn’t answer him right away, instead using his own body weight to leverage herself into a more comfortable position against his side, pulling his arm over her shoulder and leaning her head on his chest. Feeling suddenly more sober than she has all day in spite of the now-empty bottle lying forgotten under a table, having rolled there when her giggle fit began, Kara thinks of Karl Agathon as he has been in the weeks since his daughter was born and died, the months since he’d returned from the dead with a pregnant Cylon in tow. Compared to the easy-going, easy-laughing man he’d been before the end of the worlds, she wants to tell him that maybe she’s spending time with him instead of Sam right now because he needs her more. But listening to the steady thump of his heart, feeling the heat of him through his shirts, she looks up at him and realizes that maybe he doesn’t need her anymore, after all.
“You gonna be okay, Karl?” she asks and he smiles down at her without moving his head from the edge of the mattress.
“Yeah. Yeah, Kara, I’ll be better than okay. You just take care of you and Sam, alright?”
She shakes her head, mussing her hair against his shoulder. “Never thought I’d get married. Not after Zak.” Not after Lee. “You?”
“Think you’d get married? Nope.”
A poke in the ribs and she follows with, “No, dumbass. Are you and Sharon gonna get married?”
He shrugs, but she knows there is nothing noncommittal about his feelings for the Cylon. “If we’re allowed to, maybe someday, yeah.” And then he gives her a shove. “Enough. You should probably go pay your husband some attention.” He gestures toward Sam, who’s watching them again, not looking quite as relaxed as he had a couple of minutes ago.
Rolling to her feet in a movement that belies the amount of alcohol she’s consumed, Kara leaves Helo where he sits and weaves her way through the crowd of pilots and C-Bucs until she can properly hang off Sam’s shoulder.
“Hi, honey. Miss me?” She nips his ear.
“Were you gone?” He slides an arm around her waist as the music and the noise of a dozen conversations swirl around them.
Right then and there, Kara decides that it’s time to get this marriage thing off the flight deck, time to make some new memories to crowd out the old – even if the old ones only stem from the night before.
Reaching up with one hand, she snags her fingers into Sam’s hair and pulls him down for a long, intense, soul-frakking kiss. No matter what she may feel for anyone else, she loves this man, wants to make a life with him. His mouth opens easily to hers and her pulse begins to race as she tries to drink him in and he shifts to bring his body flush against hers. She pushes, just a little, letting go of his hair and tangling her hands in his shirt as he takes a step back, stopping suddenly as the backs of his knees hit a chair and he drops reflexively into the seat.
His heat suddenly gone, Kara looks around a little bit stunned. The noise level has dropped noticeably as people trickle out, even those pilots who share these quarters with her. Helo is the last to leave and she vaguely notices when he congratulates her again, but not really as all her attention seems to be focused now on Sam, leaning back in the chair so far that the front legs are up off the deck.
Grinning, Sam’s eyes flicker from her to Helo, who must have said something to Sammy that she missed. “Thanks, man,” he says to Helo, “I’m the luckiest man alive.”
Kara’s attention slides from Sam’s face to his arms. He has nice arms. Very nice. She hears Helo push the hatch shut on his way out and a smile stretches across her face.
Sam cocks his head to one side as he looks at her. “What?” he asks, looking just a little suspicious of her motives.
“I think we should get tattoos,” she states, quite pleased with herself as the front legs of his chair come crashing down.