Fandom: Battlestar Galactica
Rating: PG, really.
Word count: 2,269
Summary: Contrecoup (n): A concussion or shock produced by a blow or other injury, in a part or region opposite to that at which the blow is received, often causing rupture or disorganisation of the parts affected. One story told right-way-up, the other told upside-down, but both in the same narrative.
I wasn't sure if I'd be able to write anything solid for this fandom, but this grain of an idea stuck in my head and I started ficcing it to see where it would go. Fairly self-indulgent in that it teases out a relationship that I adore in canon, and looks at a pet "what if?" that's been spinning around my consciousness for a while. It may take a bit of mental fiddling to work out which order the pieces go in, but the narrative wanted to jump around for greater juxtapositional effect or something wanky like that. Hint: we begin at a single point in time. The present goes forwards. The past goes backwards.
The story is AU and set after episode 1x11, "Colonial Day".
Kara’s helmet is off before the roof of the cockpit has lifted and she’s climbing out three seconds after that.
His Viper would be easy to spot even without the nameplate, she thinks, stripping off her gloves with such violence that the deck crew raise their eyebrows and hastily clear all throwable objects out of her path.
Easy to spot. It’s the one that looks like it was landed by a frakking child.
“Apollo, what the frak do you call that? One busted nose panel and you’re flying like a frakking drunk? I was open, you moron, I was completely unprotected for at least –”
“Lieutenant,” the Chief says, stepping in front of her. “Lieutenant.”
“Did you wake up this morning and decide to get me killed?” she shoots over Tyrol’s shoulder, for good measure, but then she sees the red smear on Apollo’s visor and the bottom drops out of her voice.
“Lieutenant Thrace. I think something’s wrong.”
“Yeah, no shit, Chief,” and suddenly she’s pushing him aside and running to the Viper, ignoring the twinge of protest from her knee joint, and watching with her hands twisting her gloves to and fro as one of the deck officers helps Apollo remove his helmet.
He manages to turn his head, meet her eyes. Wince. The blood caking his hair sends a jolt of panic through her stomach.
“Frak,” he says weakly, and then his head falls forward.
“Lee Adama, if you weren’t more useful alive I would have killed you five times over by now.”
“Frak off,” Kara says comfortably, tossing him a towel.
“I love you even when you’re covered in grease.”
“Damn right you do.” She steps up to him suddenly and rubs her head against his freshly-washed cheek, grease streaking the skin.
“You’re disgusting, Lieutenant.” But he laughs, hooks an arm around her waist and kisses her.
“Mmmffffrak, Lee!” She twists, gasping, but he’s always been that little bit stronger.
“It’s your own damn fault for being so ticklish, you know.” But he stops. “So about those regulations...”
Kara looks down startled as he pulls the ring from her thumb and waggles it in front of her nose. Her eyebrows go up, a challenge. “Are you trying to make a point, Captain?”
“Mine now.” He kisses the silver band and slides it back on. Nothing’s changed.
She stares at him: frak me.
And stares some more.
From a certain angle, everything’s changed.
“A coma,” Adama says blankly. Quite the poker face. It’s admirable. Kara has never gone in for poker faces; or rather, she collects. She shuffles through expressions as fast as others do their cards, brightening or dimming her smile on a random algorithm.
It works better than you might expect.
For now, Kara bites her lip and tries to look only very concerned but she ends up giggling hysterically and has to turn it into a cough because something’s coming out and it’s not going to be a sob.
“Captain Adama sustained a head trauma and is bleeding from his temporal lobe,” the doctor says, stopping to draw on his cigarette. Kara presses the tips of her fingers against her thigh to stop her hands from forming fists. “Luckily, the damage does not look at all extensive. We simply need to alleviate the pressure of the blood inside his skull.”
“Do it,” the Commander says. His voice is cracked granite.
Blood inside his skull.
“Excuse me a moment, sir.”
She hobbles to the nearest bathroom and locks herself in a cubicle until the dry retching has passed.
“I don’t know if you’ve got the authority for this, Chief, but you might want to suggest to Starbuck and Apollo that they could move the fight elsewhere before we end up with a dangerous amount of grease on the floor of the deck.”
But they observe for a while, not speaking, just smiling. Starbuck is trying to stuff a rag down the back of Apollo’s tank top, and he’s rubbing cleaning grease into her hair. There’s a moment when their hands touch and the fingers twine together on reflex, a quick tight grasp that leaves a flash of hesitant warmth on Kara’s face deep below the gleeful, indignant surface.
“They’re not fooling anyone, are they, Chief?”
Tyrol smiles and bumps her shoulder. “They could still be fooling themselves.”
In point of fact: they’re fooling everyone, at least in the technicalities of it all.
Kara throws punches at her pillow, but it gives too easily.
She throws them at the wall instead.
After a while her knee hurts more than ever from the constant rebound and pressure, and her knuckles are scraped raw.
It feels. Not good. But better.
“Secrecy’s a bitch.”
“May I remind you of the many regs we’re breaking here?”
“Oh well, regs.”
“Easy for you to say, Lieutenant.”
“Are you implying that I’m a rule-breaker, sir?”
The only thing handy is a cleaning rag, but she shrieks when it hits her in the face.
“I’m happy to announce that the operation was a success,” and frak, that doctor’s voice is annoying even when he’s giving good news.
Cheering throughout the control room. Adama’s smart enough to let this kind of announcement take place in public, which means he’s been forewarned. Morale floods back into Galactica like a sweeping gale. Kara bites her lip and grins like a fool, barely registering Adama’s arm, tight around her shoulder, to begin with. Nodding at Roslin, who’s smiling warmly at anyone and everyone.
“However, the captain is still under sedation whilst he recovers, and I strongly recommend a course of a regenerative drug that – well, it doesn’t matter, but it’s still just out of trial phase, so it requires approval from next of kin, but it’s the best chance for –”
“Do it.” That voice again, Adama’s grim implacability cutting across the doctor’s ramble. Shot through with hope, this time.
“I’ll just – oh.”
And somehow it’s the silence that breaks the mood, that magnetises the attention of the crowded room.
“You’re –” out of your frakking mind, but Lee bites that back because she’s looking at him with her wary, dangerous, I’m-challenging-your-authority face.
“Your idea of constancy – security – is adding another title to that list?”
“Don’t frak this up, Lee.”
“Yes.” And it’s weird that she’s the one saying yes when it should be him, considering where the proposal came from, but somehow it means the same thing.
His mouth curves up ruefully. “You make no sense.”
“Luckily,” and she grins, biting at his collarbone, supremely confident, “that’s why you love me so damn much.”
None of it makes sense, but Lieutenant Kara Thrace respectfully asks for a private visit from Priest Elosha and the President of the Colonies is more than happy to oblige her. Keeping the faith alive is important, after all.
They are assured of secrecy, Elosha says, if that is their wish.
“All that’s left in the damn universe is secrets, Lee,” Kara says.
So that’s all right.
“Is there a problem, doctor?” Adama says. Murmurs start: problem. Doctor.
The man looks up from the console, brow furrowed in an expression that sends Kara’s nerves spinning wild again. “You don’t have the authorisation. Commander.”
“What do you mean, he doesn’t have the authorisation?” Tigh snaps in his slow, angry manner. “He’s the boy’s father. His only living relative.”
The doctor swallows. His eyes drift. “Medical power of attorney for Captain Lee Adama rests with his legal wife –”
Murmurs in acceleration and crescendo. And just like that she feels the same sense of constricted space that comes just before an FTL jump, everything slowing down and spreading out into a silence that rings loud in her ears. Three, two, one:
“– Lieutenant Kara Thrace.”
“It’s worse, now. Now every time we fly out I could be losing my flight captain, my best friend, and the guy I have messy illicit sex with and the man I love. Complete crap.”
“We’re in a state of war, Kara.”
“Frak, Lee, you don’t have to tell me these things. Like I’m a child who’s losing sight of the big picture.” She levers herself onto an elbow, irritated and serious. “It’s you I’m losing sight of.”
“You’ll always have me.” He kisses the inside of her wrist, murmuring and placating with his lips.
She laughs, bitter, looking away. “Says who, Lee? Nothing’s constant now.”
“That’s just the way things are, you know that–”
“Lee,” she says abruptly, “will you marry me?”
She loves his silences when she is the cause.
Why didn’t you say anything why didn’t what how when where why?
It’s almost a relief when a Cylon scout appears and the Galactica is suddenly on full alert again. Nobody’s firing questions, just missiles.
“Regulations,” she tells Adama afterwards, fighting for composure. That damn poker face. She can’t tell if he’s pleased or proud or pissed off or just plain furious. “We knew…we know it’s not allowed. So we didn’t tell anyone. But it’s official and it went on record.”
Into Lee’s frakking public file.
“Why did you feel a need to do this, Lieutenant Thrace?”
Oh, good, an easy one. Even so, the words take time to line up.
“Because I need to know that even though the man I love could die on any given day, something exists that’ll last beyond the words and actions of just the two of us. Something constant. Sir.”
“You should have told me.”
“Yes, sir.” Staring at a point over his left shoulder.
“I had every right to know.”
This pause is longer than the others. Adama stares down into his cup and then looks up, the light glinting off his glasses, and she still can’t read his expression.
“I couldn’t be happier for you, Kara. For him.”
She bursts into tears.
“This is crap, you know,” she says, her cheek against his chest. “Complete crap.”
She tries regulations on Tigh as well, perhaps unwise considering the ugly set of his jaw, but she’s buoyant on news of Lee’s improving health and Adama’s approval.
“Is this how you honour the Adamas?” he asks her, pushing forward into her personal space, an intimidation tactic that she’s well used to by now. “Tying yourself to the family by using Lee as a replacement for his brother –”
Her fist connects with his jaw before the last syllable is even complete.
Gaius likes to think he’d have noticed by himself. Genius scientist, student of human nature and all that.
In point of fact:
“Nothing to be done, really, I mean the poor girl’s probably pining away with this vaguely unhealthy obsession with her dead fiancé’s brother and she needed someone to –”
“Gaius.” Said in that smooth delicious way she has, tongue soft and careful, lingering throatily on the first syllable and almost swallowing the second. “That was some time ago, you know. You’re just a little fixated.”
He looks up, distracted, to see Apollo and Starbuck pass the door to the lab. She appears to be arguing with his back, all jabbing fingers and animated displeasure in contrast with his determinedly rigid stride.
“Poor girl,” he says again.
Six’s arm snakes around his neck. She whispers in his ear. Poisonous and casual. “They’re sleeping together, you know.”
In point of fact he catches the vial before it hits the floor but he isn’t quite able to hide the fact that he dropped it in the first place.
So she’s in the brig staring moodily at the wall again, rehearsing what she’s going to say to Lee as soon as she’s let out. He’s being taken off sedation this afternoon.
Assaulting a superior asshole again, sir. With all due respect, he was talking out of it.
The minutes tick by. Gaius visits,
(How are you?
So I hear.
the gods only know why he feels the need. Pointless.
She clasps her hands together and looks down at her cupped palms where the bases of her fingers interlace and admires the way the smooth joining zigzag looks just like the closed doors of an airlock.
When the brig door is unlocked she’s running again and the pain shooting up from her knee is agonising but she really couldn’t give a frak.
“You have no idea, sir.” She scrapes at her face with one hand, mustering a cheerful look.
“Get some rest while you’re off duty.”
She sits heavily on her rack. “No, Lee, I thought I’d go for a run and then sleep all through my next session of cramming navigational theory into the nuggets. I think I’ll really get through to them that way.”
“Sarcasm works better when you don’t sound dazed,” Lee informs her, slamming his locker shut and coming to sit next to her.
“Bite me,” she mutters, too tired to make it sound snappy, flopping her head onto his shoulder.
He sniffs her hair, exaggeratedly. “No thanks.”
“Oh, you –”
Kara turns to punch him but she’s tired, yeah, that’s it, and her hand glances across his shoulder and to the back of his neck and later they’ll place bets on who leaned forward first, but for all extents and purposes: they meet in the middle.
This is where it ends: he opens his eyes and she’s there.
This is where it begins: she opens her eyes and he’s there.