This icon thinks yes.
“Kat’s a good CAG,” Lee says, before Kara can open her mouth. “No, I mean it. She’s leveled out. Less of an audience and more responsibility have been good for her.”
“Right.” Kara stares at her knuckles on the edge of the hatchway, poised to propel her out of the Pegasus ready room. “Okay.”
There’s a pause and she tells herself not to look away, to keep her eyes on her hand, but it figures that she picked the one part of her body that she's never been able to look at for any extended amount of time. Her eyes drift across and catch the aftermath of an amused expression on Lee’s face.
“You’re not going to fight me on this, Starbuck?”
She feels the shiver run across her face in the same way that she feels the puff of cold air from the oxygen filter near where her fingertips rest on the metal. Feels it, experiences it, but has no control over it. Starbuck.
“I’ve been gone a while,” she says, and then, very deliberately, “Commander. I’m sure things have changed. I accept that.”
Lee holds her gaze and does not flinch at the title, though his face falls a little. He sighs, gathers his papers together and walks over to the hatchway. She waits for him to move past her, forgetting until it’s too late that she’s probably meant to salute, but he stops dead when he’s barely a foot away and just…looks at her. There’s a remembering look on his face, like he’s recolouring his mental image of her. She shifts on her feet.
“You’ve changed,” he says. “Kara. Do you…” and he laughs as he trails off, but it’s not a mocking laugh and it’s not the grudging amusement of the Lee Adama she once thought that she knew but a weird, edgy self-directed laugh that makes her hands tingle. “I don’t suppose you want to, um. Talk about it. At all.”
“Good guess,” she says flatly. Changed. She thinks about Kacey and about Sam and about the way her flight suit is chafing her thighs in a way it hasn’t done since her first year of training. She thinks about something that was in Kat’s eyes and might even have been pity, and she doesn’t want him to understand, doesn’t want him to stand there looking so understanding or she’s going to burst. Messily. Tears and blood all over his spotless battlestar. The tingling in her hands gets worse and her knuckles feel odd and she doesn’t want to be holding on to the metal any more and all of a sudden she’s grasping his forearms.
“Kara.” He doesn’t pull away.
“Apollo,” she says, uneven, giving him the name as…what? Apology? Peace offering?
His smile is slow. Another remembering expression, but this time it’s his own face which is waking up. The real, old affection in that smile is enough to overshadow the distance that has been there ever since she first set eyes on him after leaving New Caprica. “I missed you, Kara,” he says. “Believe me or not, but I did.” And he leans down and kisses her, lightly enough that she doesn’t panic, but for long enough that the tingling spreads from her hands and leaps into a warm sparkling tangle at the base of her stomach. She’s not sure what he’s doing. She distinctly remembers the wedding band on his hand. But she’s still Starbuck – she is – and Starbuck has kissed a few married men in her time.
Lee pulls back and looks rather surprised. “Ah,” he says. “Sorry.”
“I.” She chews the side of her lip, thoughtfully, working her way through a handful of options, don’t screw this up, Thrace, and her hands are still holding his arms. That’s as good a clue as any. “I missed you too,” she says, fast. “Sometimes.”
“I suppose that’s all I could hope for,” he says, his tone almost but not quite normal, and the distance is starting to re-emerge.
“It’s the end of the frakking world, Apollo,” she says, and finds her old voice hiding somewhere in the corner of Starbuck’s smile. “Again. Hold on to that hope. It makes you insufferable, but you’re probably going to need it.”
“Insufferable? Excuse me, Captain Thrace?”
She leans in and kisses him again. Not thinking. Not thinking. Just…living. She’s not sure how long this truce will last. “Pardon me, Commander Adama. I probably shouldn’t be insulting my superior officers.”
“You probably shouldn’t. But that’s never stopped you before.” Lee bends down suddenly and picks up his papers. She hadn’t noticed them fall.
“I have changed.” She summons all of her bravado and winks, backing away, feeling the truth hum through her. “Maybe I’m a model of military discipline now.”
Lee laughs and lifts a hand to his mouth and just then she turns away so that she doesn’t have to watch the humour fade into guilt.