If anything, Kara has taught Lee that love doesn't always include kindness and that despair, sometimes, is the greatest aphrodisiac of all. (Lee/Kara, up to 3.07)
Lee has memories of her, of when she refused to bath regularly, partly from forgetfulness, partly because it amused her to be dirty. He often mocked her smell, the heavy, dense scent of worn leather and sweat and she only smiled at his jibes, not caring one way or the other.
That's why he notices almost right away, when he allows himself to get close enough, that she smells like soap, oppressively so, and her skin is as pink as a seashell, as if she's scrubbed at herself so hard, she's tried to make herself disappear.
"Why are you so clean?" he almost asks, but he also remembers they're not talking anymore, except he can't exactly remember why.
Dee would be able to remind him quite handily, he's sure, but he's not going down that road.
Things are different now.
People are saying things about Starbuck these days. Talk that's framed in dark jokes and whispered beneath the rim of ambrosia glasses. Rumors that she's crazy and lost and that she's done unspeakable things in the name of vengeance, vengeance against her Cylon captors who will never, ever pay enough.
Lee can hear them when he's in the mess and in the rec; sometimes he hears crewmen whispering in the halls, shutting their mouths the second he turns the corner. He's never taken stock in such things, but when he sees her huddling with Tigh, laughing into their cups like old friends instead of the mortal enemies they've always been, he thinks there might be something to the hearsay.
He's just not sure it matters. At least in his own feelings toward her.
Kara's husband is nowhere to be seen these days. Lee has looked for him, repeatedly, and he's not sure why he's bothered. People have been disappearing on a regular basis, that's true, but he's not worried that Sam is one of the unlucky few who've crossed the human race. He's more of the mind that Sam is unlucky in love, unlucky with Kara, and that's a whole lot worse than falling out an airlock in Lee's opinion.
His educated opinion.
He and Kara had a graceless affair before she left for New Caprica, behind both their lovers' backs. Lee tries hard not to recall the slow slide of Kara's tongue over his skin or how soft her lips looked in the dull light of his quarters. It drags him down into a listless state, these memories and Lee has to blink them away, hard, forcing the world to clear every time they invade his thoughts.
It's dangerous to think like this. He has other responsibilities and loss hangs too heavily over him for him to ruin the few things he's been able to hold onto, as pointless as they are -- his rank, his life, his sanity.
Marriage has come to both of them and isn't going away any time soon; he's not fooling himself in that regard. He and Kara have lived in different worlds for the greater part of two years and except for that one rough night, where he jerked her to him and crushed their lips together until she went languid in his arms, fragile and alive, they've had little of meaning to say to one another.
It wasn't a sweet or romantic frak, the night they spent together before she left him, ostensibly, forever. If anything, Kara has taught Lee that love doesn't always include kindness and that despair, sometimes, is the greatest aphrodisiac of all.
Kara has removed herself from the general pilot population, of her own accord. She drinks alone or with Tigh, talks to almost no one when she's not flying and spends more time in her rack than Lee thinks is healthy.
It's not that Lee's been spending every other minute looking to see what Kara's been doing, except that he is. He's insanely grateful he's not on the Pegasus anymore, spending his days and nights in the luxurious room he and Dee once shared, where he ate himself into an obese stupor and frakked his poor wife with her on top because he no longer had the physique to do it the other way around.
On the depleted Galactica it's easier to deprive himself, easier to starve himself back into shape and when he looks in the mirror he no longer hates himself, for /settling/, if nothing else. Everything in life for the past year has been /less than/, but now with Kara back ...
Gods, what an idiot he is. She's not his, he's not hers and haunting himself with the thoughts of what might have been ...
The wrinkled mattress on his rack is good enough now, even if Dee hates it. He tries to make it more appealing, getting them an actual set of sheets, something like the ones they used to have aboard the /Pegasus/, but she's not impressed. She misses being the mistress of a battlestar, misses being the wife of a commander and owning the CIC alongside of him and he can't say he blames her for mourning the loss, it's only natural.
Already she's growing restless, he can see it and it almost makes Lee laugh to see her eyes dart from him to Helo and back again, reminding him of her furtive glances at him over Billy's shoulder, all those lifetimes ago.
He hopes that when she makes her attempt on Helo's virtue she remembers that Sharon is a Cylon ...
It might turn nasty otherwise.
He'd have stayed as he was, if not for Kara, Lee thinks one morning while shaving. Always hesitating ... waiting for the right moment to do what needed to be done yesterday already.
If not for her he'd have no reason to think it's funny to commit genocide against the Cylons, no excuse to let his fingers twitch joyfully against the trigger when about to execute a room full of war prisoners, who ended up being dead anyway, much to Lee's vast disappointment.
In a past life, he thinks that Kara was probably an artist, the mad kind who chopped off parts of herself as an expression of all the things mere paint and canvas could never say. In a way, she's an artist now, except she's trapped in the body of a warrior and in fighting, hurts herself just as much as any enemy.
Lee was ever a soldier, a thousand lifetimes of blood and steel and shields that failed. He has dreams sometimes of those ancient fields and while he's not one to sit at the feet of a Pythia, he has his own ideas of how death and destiny work.
You can't change either, so why bother trying?
They were always together, in some lifetime, this much he knows and it's pointless to fight against it in this one, at least that's what he likes to tell himself when sliding the shaving razor up his throat. One slip to the side and he'd be dead, just as one step away and he'd be through with Kara, but he won't do either because that's not how it's meant to be.
A man can fall into the arms of Fate and not be a fool, if he's as sure as Lee is, at least in this one, fatal regard.
He has to admit that Kara is beautiful, even in the cold light of general quarters, her body hard and elegant in ways that some men might not find appealing.
Lee likes her angles and scars. They speak of danger and things hidden and he writes words in Old Caprican with his tongue on the inside of her thighs.
She smokes while Lee does this, staring at the rack top, opening her legs more when he hits a spot she enjoys. She's not overly bathed tonight and he's grateful, because he knows that this constant showering is one of the secrets he might not want to be privy to.
Not just yet.
It's hard to resist going in further and soon his mouth is filled with the taste of her, salt and slick wetness, like the sea. They've made many mistakes, but this isn't one of them, not now and later they might regret it, stumbling over the apologies to their spouses, but not now, Lee thinks, /please gods, not now/.
She strokes his hair while he does this, shifting restlessly beneath his tongue. She won't look at him, but he goes on anyway, until her eyes are screwed shut and she's trying her best not to scream. Furious, he pins her down, his fingers bruising her hips and makes her let go, which she does with an unearthly sound, a cry that sounds like pain, but he knows isn't.
She's wild with nonsense after that, frakking him nearly senseless and he closes his eyes, just to listen.
Better than words, these noises she makes and soon it'll be back to how they were, silent and torn, and not lovers, no, not at all.
A waste, in a way and tomorrow Kara will go back to sitting next to a broken Tigh, feigned or real madness glinting from her eyes. Lee will hear more rumors and choose not to believe them and that will be the best he can do.
They might meet again behind closed curtains, or they might not, but Lee doesn't mind the wait.
If his memory serves him right, they have all the time in the universe.